Meranews, Ahmedabad: The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India (GoI) has selected CEPT University in Ahmedabad to conduct capacity building programs for Urban Development Professionals working with major Indian cities. The training will cover aspects of Local Area Planning and Urban Expansion through Town Planning Scheme mechanism.

The role of CEPT University will include development of training modules, training of trainers and rolling out of training programs. These training programs will benefit selected representatives of urban local bodies, senior and middle level officers.

India is undergoing rapid urbanisation with 32 percent of its population residing in over 7,900 towns and cities. This is likely to go up to 40 percent in 2030. About 65 percent of the country’s GDP is produced in the urban areas of the country thus making them engines of economic growth. However, the expansion of Indian towns and cities has been unplanned, chaotic and haphazard.

Traditionally, cities in India have attempted to cope with ever increasing population in one of two ways; either the additional population is accommodated within the city limits by increasing densities and thus putting existing infrastructure to extreme strain. Or, the city expands peripherally in unplanned sprawls with poor road connectivity and infrastructure.

To address the problems of unplanned growth in the cities under Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT, the Ministry has adopted a two pronged planning strategy: redevelopment within existing developed areas by adopting Local Area Plans, and, promoting planned peripheral expansion through Town Planning Schemes, which utilize the land pooling or land readjustment method.

President of CEPT University, Bimal Patel said, “Gujarat has been a pioneer in using the land pooling method for Town Planning. While the first such Plan was implemented almost a century ago in the state, like many other states, this planning practise had decreased around 80’s and 90’s due to the complexity and time taken. But Gujarat improved and refined the process to make it more implementable. Having experienced the innovative planning practices of Gujarat very closely, CEPT is uniquely situated to use this rich experience and create such capacities in other States.”

The University plans to roll out pilot programs in October and will be adopting a methodology which combines classroom lectures with focused discussions, field visits and hands on studios/labs. Professionals will undertake the full program taken in two stretches of three days. A shorter version of the program is also being developed, which will be aimed at political leaders and senior bureaucrats to expose them to the specifics of these planning processes.

MoUD has identified improving capacity at state and city level as one of the key factors necessary for the success of these missions. Skilled urban planners are required to create compact mixed use localities using Local Area Planning techniques incorporating Form Based Codes. Similarly, planners would also need to be trained in the land pooling method for peripheral expansion, which does not require dependence on coercive land acquisition and heavy financial outlays.

While, most planners and urban development professionals would know the concepts underpinning these two strategies, in order to execute these plans, they would need to actually test out these strategies using examples of real areas. The training program proposed by CEPT will allow urban development professionals to learn and test their skills under the guidance of experienced practitioners and experts.

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