NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the government plans to bring a "paradigm change" in urban planning in view of the rapid urbanisation in the country and announced setting up of a high-level expert panel for making suggestions on policy matters, capacity building and implementation.
"By the time of India@100, nearly half our population is likely to be living in urban areas. To prepare for this, orderly urban development is of critical importance. This will help realize the country's economic potential, including livelihood opportunities for the demographic dividend," she said.
For this, the minister stressed that there is a need to nurture the megacities and their hinterlands to become current centres of economic growth.
"On the other hand, we need to facilitate tier 2 and 3 cities to take on the mantle in the future. This would require us to reimagine our cities into centres of sustainable living with opportunities for all, including women and youth," she observed.
For this to happen, the finance minister said, urban planning cannot continue with a business-as-usual approach.
"We plan to steer a paradigm change. A high-level committee of reputed urban planners, urban economists and institutions will be formed to make recommendations on urban sector policies, capacity building, planning, implementation and governance," the minister said.
For urban capacity building, Sitharaman said the support will be provided to the states.
"Modernisation of building bylaws, Town Planning Schemes (TPS), and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) will be implemented," she said, adding this would facilitate reforms for people to live and work closer to mass transit systems.
"The Central Government's financial support for mass transit projects and AMRUT scheme will be leveraged for the formulation of action plans and their implementation for facilitating TOD and TPS by the states," the minister said.
For developing India-specific knowledge in urban planning and design, and to deliver certified training in these areas, the finance minister said up to five existing academic institutions in different regions will be designated as centres of excellence.
These centres will be provided endowment funds of Rs 250 crore each.
In addition, she said AICTE will take the lead to improve syllabi, quality and access of urban planning courses in other institutions.