Right of Town Planners – fight for planned development, improving urban and rural areas.

Issue:

Recruitment of unqualified/ incompetent Town Planners in State Government-Town and Country Planning Departments, Urban Development Authorities and Urban Local Bodies.

1. Concern

This is to express our anguish on behalf of town and country planners in India as it has become a matter of serious concern for the profession and the practice in professional field. As per recent advertisements (copy attached) for recruitment of the posts of Assistant Town Planner (an entry level post in the Town Planning profession) the minimum qualification has been prescribed as Bachelor of Architecture/ Bachelor of Civil Engineer. This means that persons without planning qualifications are  going to be recruited which is going to adversely impact on the quality of the Plan preparation be it a Master Plan/Zonal Plan /Local Area Plan.  It has been desired, time and again that only qualified Town Planners should be involved in the Planning exercise and one of the main reason for unplanned and haphazard growth and development is that the responsibility of planned development is given to unqualified personnel.

Further, we are writing in deep suffering that the State Governments have not been including the Bachelor of planning degree & B.tech (in planning) (undergraduate) as an essential qualification for Assistant Town Planners post. This undergraduate course is being offered by all the three Schools of Planning & Architecture viz., Delhi, Bhopal and Vijayawada (all 3 are Institutions of National Importance) and other State funded Institutions and private universities . In this regard, we would like to state that the Town and Country Planning Organization which is a technical arm of your esteemed Ministry has already incorporated Bachelor of planning in the recruitment rules for recruiting Assistant Town Planner.(copy of Recruitment Rule attached.

Kindly click here to download some of the advertisement for recruitments in which we have highlighted the eligibility criteria.

Individual Files available below

  1. Chennai 2014
  2. Dehradun 2015
  3. Gujarat 2015
  4. Karnataka 2015
  5. Kolkata 2013
  6. Maharashtra 2015
  7. Rajasthan 2011
  8. Rajasthan Nagar Palika 2015
  9. Surat 2015
  10. Urban Devepment & Housing Department, Bihar 2016

2. Why only Planners(preferably planners with B.plan/ B.tech in planning degree) should be hired?

Town planning is a multi-disciplinary field and deals with complicated network interdependent and interrelated network of activities which functions behind the cities to make them sustainable. Due to magnitude of the cities and towns problem, a planner has better comprehension and also in a better position to offer workable solutions through planner interventions, whereas Architects and Civil engineers, by and large , focuses on buildings by involving themselves in preparing building plans /design aspects/structural safety aspects.

During the specialized nature of Bachelors of Planning course (4 years duration) students get vast exposure to understand and appreciate the knitty gritty of plan making process at different hierarchy of plans starting from Local area plan, zonal plan, master plan and upto regional plan. The scale especially of Master plan and Regional plans which deals with cities and cuts across states respectively requires in-depth research of multi-disciplinary nature and if only architects and engineers are involved in preparing the urban and regional plans then it will only appear as urban design. Detailed knowledge of surveys helps us in problem identification related to transportation, infrastructure, environment, housing etc. The studies are undertaken by visiting the site, doing surveys, interacting with local people, interviewing government officials and understanding the problems. Plans and policies thus formulated takes into account all aspects to make a city/area work in an efficient way. This sets the course apart from any other course which deals with similar areas of expertise.

3. Losses incurred at various levels:

3.1 Loss for an individual

You might have come across various newspaper articles criticizing urban planning or an area which gave rise to safety issues or crime. In time of natural disasters proper planning results in saving human lives and cost. Poor quality plans effect your life in ways you might not be aware. If this wrong procedure is adopted then you can expect to be stuck in traffic jams for hours, may not have access to clean water, find garbage on road, near your home which will give rise to health issues which will not be addressed because of lack or inadequate hospitals. There will be significant loss of the tax paid from the hard earned money as the funds will be wasted to rectify the errors made by unqualified professionals will creep in from the very beginning. This price will be paid on daily basis, again and again for years as modifying a policy document takes long time and deliberation. Some of the examples include acute shortages of drinking water in Dwarka (although planned but lacks water supply even now after years of its development), threat posed to Pune which has been highlighted again and again, urban flooding as in case of Mumbai, aggravate loss during disasters like in Chennai & Srinagar floods & Uttarakhand cloud burst, earthquake in Gujarat.

3.2 Loss of planners

Inefficient and poor plans will tarnish the reputation of planning profession which will further add to the prevailing lack of job opportunities. Aspiring students will not look forward to undertake this important course because of lack of jobs. Our country have about 5000 town planners till date (as reported by Institute of Town Planners, a corporate body) from time to time and this number will further go down as planners are forced to change their profession or serve other nations with more and much better opportunities.

3.3 Loss for government/state

Failure of various national and state level missions. Difficulty in implementation of various schemes and programmes. Some of them include Smart Cities Mission, AMRUT, Solar Cities Programme, National Solar Mission, NUIS Scheme, ineffective/incomplete implementation of JNNURM or recently launched RURBAN Mission.

3.4 Effect on development and cost to country

Short term effects: There will be compromise in the quality of plans from the very beginning. There will be significant mismatch in the demand and supply of services like water supply, solid waste management, negative impact on health and educational facilities. In addition to this urban areas will witness severe traffic problems something which are cities are already struggling with and do not have any promising solution.  This will result in serious deterioration of the productivity of the people which will hinder growth of cities. Development of slums will take place as the mismatch between the housing need and housing demand will vary significantly and either we will have shortage of houses or surplus in certain category both of which will lead to wastages of resources and cause burden on the existing resources of the city.

3.5 A larger perspective and aggregate loss

The recruitment of incompetent or unqualified planners will result in serious long term irreversible effects and the cost will be paid by all the people related directly or indirectly. It is a matter of serious concern that even after 65 years of independence we have only 2582 master plans out of 7933 cities because of reasons- like lack of qualified town planners in the State. Master Plan being a legal document takes long time to notify and hence mismatch between proposals and actual implementation continues which severely impacts the quality of life. Because of this our government and nation as a whole finds it difficult to provide basic facilities like clean drinking water, access to grid connection and electricity in number of places, basic health services etc for its citizens.

We acknowledge and appreciate that improvement is taking place in all the sectors because of hard work and contribution of everyone but the pace of improvement can be catalysed if qualified and competent persons are appointed for the concerned post. For example if quality of master plan is compromised than it means that life of millions of people is affected negatively for upto 20 years. Considering the significance of Master plan its quality cannot be compromised at any cost.  The problem mentioned is just tip of the iceberg and can’t merely be explained in few words.

To list a few examples, our very own national capital Delhi do not have its Master Plan from period 1982-2001 during which haphazard growth took place, subsequently Delhi still lacks sub zonal plans and those in place were prepared very late. Moreover, almost all metro cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai lacks data of actual development and existing land use plans. This makes impossible to have any data of real time development and actual ground position prevailing in the city.

4. Our Request from Ministry of Urban Development

It is our humble request to kindly look into the matter and accordingly instruct all the State Governments and UT Administration to include Bachelor of planning degree as essential qualification for the recruitment of Assistant Town Planner in State Town and Country Planning Departments, Urban Development Authorities and Urban Local Bodies. We would be indeed grateful if an advisory is issued to all the State Governments and Union Territories to adopt the recruitment rules of Town and Country Planning Organization for the post of Assistant Town Planner.

If the above request cannot be accepted then we would like to request atleast one change which is to change the name of post assigned to a non- planner. They must not be referred as “Assistant Town Planner”; “Town & Country Planner” and anything similar. This is having adverse impact on the profession as “Planning” gets defamed because of the people who are not actually planners but have been assigned the work of planners.

We also came to know that Town and Country Planning Organization, the technical arm of the Ministry, in 2014, attempted draft bill on Council of Town Planners. However, no further progress has been made in this matter. We humbly request that Ministry may kindly direct TCPO to take up draft bill and other actions thereof. Sir, the  Bill shall protect the interest of both profession and education of Town Planners and if it becomes an ACT, then Town Planners shall be registered like Architects, Doctors, Advocates etc and the problems of unqualified persons working in Town Planning Departments gets resolved.

5. Request from readers

Kindly give a thought to the problems which planners are trained to address but are finding it difficult to do because of the old/wrong policies and selection procedure. If you think that the information is incorrect/false/incomplete or lacks support and evidence then kindly spare few minutes to search about “Town Planning” or “Urban Planning” are read about their roles or contact us so that we can furnish you more details, facts and figures to give us an opportunity to clarify our stand. It’s a humble request to take action for a collective good, we as town planners tried to raise this issue but it was not given any consideration and thus no action was taken.