Urban Planning, Governance & Practice from an Administrators View & Local Bodies – State / Central Governments Relation

Session Report
Kashish Narang

Urban Policy & City Planning is an online one-month online immersive certificate training course organized by Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at Impact and Policy Research Institute, IMPRI, New Delhi in the month of July 2023. An informative and panel discussion on the topic “Urban Planning, Governance & Practice from an Administrators View & Local Bodies – State / Central Governments Relation” was held on July 12, 2023, by Mr. Sameer Unhale Joint Commissioner, Department of Municipal Administration, Government of Maharashtra; Urban PractitionerVisiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI.

On the fourth day of the event, the session commenced with an introduction by the Chair, Dr Rumi Aijaz, who is a Senior Fellow and the Head of the Urban Policy Research Initiative at ORF.  The theme for the session was Economy, Finance, Infrastructure, Practice and Built environment. Dr Aijaz provided context for the discussion and proceeded to introduce the first theme along with the speaker for the session, Mr. Sameer Unhale.

Mr. Sameer Unhale first began by stating that there is a need to overhaul and re-haul all our basic conceptual understanding and processes as to how an urban area would be evolving, and how it could be managed, administered, serviced and planned given the challenges that we are facing. 

He then proceeded to introduce the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act of 1966. This legislation specifically outlines the identity of the planning authority, elucidating its distinct features such as its rights and obligations, financial mechanisms, as well as the supervision and governance protocols exercised by the state administration over subordinate bodies. A noteworthy challenge arises when multiple authorities concurrently engage in planning activities within the same geographic precinct which creates an issue of synchronizing. 

Utilizing his firsthand experience, he leverages his direct involvement and navigates through the phases of devising a plan. An underlying challenge in formulating the plan revolves around deciding whether the public should be engaged in the initial stages of land use planning or if their input should only be solicited after the plan has been drafted. The domain of social and economic planning continues to trail behind, yet to catch up adequately. He emphasizes that there is a need to transition from strict land use planning and have a larger economic perspective to the vision that the city would be moving. 

Furthermore, he delved into the topic of transfer of development rights (TDR) and how it is used for creating affordable housing stock in multiple ways. He shared practical experiences, shedding light on the challenges faced during the planning phase and the subsequent impacts. Among these, the issue of illegal constructions emerged as a prominent challenge.

Collectively, he offered insights into the methodology of plan formulation, key aspects of the planning procedure, along with the limitations and obstacles confronted when advancing these blueprints. 

This segued into an engaging Q&A session where the audience interacted with the speakers, posing insightful questions.

Dr. Rumi Aijaz offered his remarks on the presentation, highlighting how the attendees gained valuable insights by listening to firsthand expertise from a practitioner’s standpoint. Subsequently, he proceeded to present the second theme and introduced the subsequent speaker- Dr Soumyadip Chattopadhyay.

Kashish Narang is a Research Intern at IMPRI.

Read more session reports for Urban Policy & City Planning:

An overview of Urban planning in India

Financing of Urban Infrastructure in India: Issues and Way Forward

Cities, Environment, Climate Change & Social Justice

Urban Policy & City Governance in New India: Challenges & Opportunities

A Way Forward for Urban Planning & Governance in Indian Cities

India’s Urban Development Schemes: Impact & Way Forward

The Missing Links in Governing Cities

Urban Planning in India



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