Urban Planning – UPSC GS1

Urban planning that involves the people gives far better results than top-down efforts from the government. Substantiate with suitable examples. (200 Words)
74th constitutional amendment act envisaged devolution of power to local level of governance. But actual implementation of this amendment in letter and spirit is missing, with significant variation in devolution across the states. Still many programmes are planned and top level in ”one size fits all approach”, and these have lagged in achieving their envisaged objectives. Bottom up approach i.e. planning and implementation both at local level, can resolve lot of problems, its benefits are discussed as follows:
  1. Needs identification: No one can effectively identify or assess the needs of the community except community itself. Plan should be made by community on the basis of needs recognized.
  2. Sense of ownership: Once community is involved in planning and implementation of the project, a sense of ownership develops in the community. It helps in maintenance of the project.
  3. Awareness: Once people starts participating themselves in planning and implementation, awareness will be automatically spread among them. e.g. in toilet building, awareness about negatives of open defecation will be there.
  4. Social Auditing: There will no separate need for social auditing, once community is itself the owner of the project. Community can easily charge user charges based on the needs of the projects, which is generally found tough to be implemented by the government in top down model.
There has been several examples of successful implementation of the projects with bottom up approach. e.g. In Tiruchirapalli self-help groups are given responsibility for managing and maintaining community toilet, which has shown effective results in decreasing open defecation as well as improved maintenance and operations. But problem with community participation is of mobilization and capacity building among them to plan and implement. Self-help group programme provide important platform where problem of mobilisation and capacity building can be tackled.


Critically evaluate performance of the past schemes that aimed at transforming Indian cities into more livable spaces. Do you think new schemes which are in the pipeline would address inadequacies of past schemes? Examine. (200 Words)
Urbanization or urban rejuvenation has been a key target area for successive governments given the wave of migration and recognition of cities as engines of growth. Various projects have been launched for improving the urban infrastructure with varying degrees of success:
  • JNNURM – Launched in 2005 till 2014, it focusses on providing technical assistance to cities in areas like transport, solid waste management and accommodation. Rapid Bus transit systems are one of the most visible success. But mostly due to sporadic gains made in scattered cities, the overall impact of the project is not as visible. JNNURM helped in transport in some cities while in housing in some others. So a holistic development was not seen and consequently results were not effective as well.
  • Rajiv Awaas Yojana: It focusses on urban poor and aims to make India slum free by 2022. It provides for affordable houses free of cost.
  • Rajiv Rinn Yojana to address the housing needs of the EWS/LIG segments through enchanted credit flow has helped marginal strata of society.
  • National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) envisage mobilisation of urban poor household into thrift and credit-based SHG.
  • Integrated Low Cost Sanitation scheme aims at conversion of individual dry latrines into pour flush latrines.
  • National Policy on Urban Street Vending,2009 &
  • National Urban Housing & Habitat Policy, 2007 has envisaged sustainable mechanism for the development of cities.
Problems in previous planning –
  • lack of proper regional planning,
  • highly centralized,
  • lack of local participation,
  • overlapping of task among numerous civic bodies,
  • lack of fund and
  • most imp. inefficient utilization of our Municipalities
New schemes like smart cities project and AMRUT aims to spend about 2 lakh crore in a span of 5 yrs. Both the schemes are designed to give state govts more say in making cities more smarter and liveable. Central govt will scrutinize the proposals of state govts in regard to make a specific city smart city. Giving more say to state govt in turning city is a welcome point both from federal perspective and local level participation perspective. But ULBs need to be made indispensable partners in this plan. Capacity building of them must be done. It also needs to be ensured that these plans should work synergistically with Schemes like Swatch Bharat mission. More power needs to be given to Mayors and the blue print of the plan before implementation needs to be put in public domain for wider approval. With greater central financial aid and focus on PPP models, greater foreign cooperation, IT, awareness, competition based selection of cities, these schemes certainly are a step in the right direction.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top