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Role of ‘planning agency’ in urban development of india


The development discourse in India has undergone huge change in the wake of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (LPG) more specifically in the context of third world country. Now development is no longer a exercise which can be carried out merely by the government of the day in terms of infrastructure and tangible notion but at the same time it is a conceptualizations of human freedom that enable him/her to attain the highest possible goals through democratic means.

In this very writing attempt has been made to understand the changing notion of development and role of planning agencies about the same. However, in India development paradigm differ hugely on account of myriad societal and economic norms. Therefore, there are hardly any universal notion of development due to changing context that we need to keep in mind while dealing with the concept of urban development in India. In the same light we must acknowledge the various challenges that we confront as far as the urban development is concern. How we can get rid of these drawback in order to make our exercise more efficient.


In India the rapid growth has been both “sustainable and inclusive” but it pose formidable challenges for existing urban planning in India. The process of urbanization can be carried out by creating additional space for them who are yet to become the part of said process. Redistribution of resources and people has to be there in order to make our cities more equitable that can be done only when there is a equal amount of share between rural and urban. Our effort is here to assess the major aspects of urban planning in India. Hence, focus on reorientation of urban planning to address the long standing challenges of urban cities, which are likely to be very important in India’s current stage of urban development.

Current approach to urban planning in India

In India existing structure of urban panning lies with United Kingdom Act of 1947, which tell us how to deal with land the same practice has been followed by many developed and developing countries. Recognizing the important underplay between land use and transportation are particularly significant in country like India to understand the notion of urban planning with the help of various agencies.

There is a “Master Plan” in place to deal with urban development process in a cities like Delhi and Mumbai etc. it took us over 10 years to complete the master plan which help us in a most amazing manner. [1] This very plan cover the time horizon of about 20 years giving us a clear road map to the present state of the city. Like any planning approach master plan also suffer from a principle flaw in a sense that it did not allow the market to determine the scale and location of economic activity in the urban cities. [2]

Read Also, Effects of ‘SAP’ on the Development Models in Globalized world

Moreover, master plan have not taken into account the financial planning. As a result it failed to provide a feasible alternative to the urban cities. [3] Another criticism of the master plan came from the fact that it did not include the weaker section of society which constitute the mainstay of India’s urban development process the criticism did not stop here another area where master plan failed given the nature of society is that it uniformly discuss commercial and residential areas. Land is something which has great significance as far as planning in India is concern. Therefore our dependence on land has to be rationalize.

In India land is either owned or acquired by the state only hence, it is an important entity in that process. It is extremely important to have a workable and transparent framework to guide the development of land in urban areas. In the same spirit we should show the law made by Indian government in 2013 popularly known as “Right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition rehabilitation and resettlement act 2013”. [4]

Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojna-Housing For All, Urban (PMAY-HFA)

At the slum decadal growth rate of 34%, the slum households are projected to go more than 18 million. 2 million non-slum urban poor households are proposed to be covered under the above mission. Hence, total housing shortage envisaged to be addressed through the new mission is 20 million. The mission is being implemented during 2015-2022 and provide central assistance to Urban local Bodies (ULBs) and other implementing agencies through States/UTs for: In-situ Rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers using land as a resource through private participation, credit linked subsidy, affordable Housing in partnership, Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house Construction etc. [5]

Jawaharlal Nehru National urban renewal mission (JNNURM) made it mandatory for all the urban cities to prepare a city development plan not only this they made provision for them to have access to the financial network of state [6] So, that their economic concern can be addressed.

Master plan for DELHI-With the perspective for the year 2021

DDA (Delhi Development Authority) is currently engaged in extensive modification of the master plan of DELHI-2001 and is preparing MPD (Master plan for Delhi, 2021). [7] With a perspective up to 2021 to cater to the increasing population and the changing requirements of the city. In developing the concept of spatializing culture, Setha Low draws on over 20 years of research to examine social production, social construction, embodied, discursive, emotive and effective, as well as trans-local approaches. A global range of fieldwork examples are employed through his text to highlight not just the theoretical development of the idea of spatializing culture, but how it can be used in undertaking ethnographic of space and place. [8]

We need to move to a cost-centric approach where establishment, schemes and project are treated as such and revenue-capital distinction will be the basis of expenditure classification as required by the constitutional framework. An important challenge for urban planning in India is the absence of participation from different stakeholders in that exercise. Local government and central government has to have come forward in order to make people active to take participate in this process. That is where the role of local agencies became more significant.

Significance of agencies in India

As we stated above that local agencies have an important role to play in urban planning of India because in a practical sense they are the once who actually implement the policy in a democratic and effective manners. Where as central government are authorized to give them grant. It has been often seen that absence of coordination and negotiation between these to bodies caused great hurdle to implement the policy put forward by the Constitution of India.

The creation of planning agencies by itself not been able to abolish the hurdle to increase the productivity and improvement in development discourse in India. Planning agencies have been setup in almost all the part of country but its effectiveness is yet to be seen. In March 1963, organization of America clearly reported that the most common. Problem that American planning agency have face is about the inefficiency of the agencies. If this problem remain same then the objective for which these policy were meant are unlikely to achieve. Therefore, it is imperative on the part of state to addressed this concern.

The Indian government has set itself an ambitious target: it want to get rid of the monumental dump yard in at least 20 large cities, including 10 major state capital like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, lucknow and Ahmedabad, in the next 3 year under the Swachh Bharat Mission. On  10 oct, 2016, municipal commissioners of these cities agreed to formulate time bound action plans by factoring in the solid waste already dumped at landfill sites and the daily generation of such waste.[9] The most important think about planning agency is that those who frame or make these agency must be accountable to people at large absence of same did not serve any development purpose.

There are few points that we must keep in mind as far as the role of agencies in urban process is concern:

  1. Formulation and revision of long term, medium term and annual national development activity of the state has to be implemented considering the mood of the nation.[10]
  2. Planner of agency always concern about the feasibility because in a theoretical manner we can have a completely drastic image of one particular think but when it come to real testing it failed miserably.
  3. Government has many think to do in any given society so does India. Generally, all the activity of government is carried out by finance mobilized in a different manner ranging from tax collection to other thing. Adopting new machinery lies in the other part of the government.
  4. Coordinating, negotiation, discussion, technical skills etc. these are all norms which are highly associated with administration. The planning unit in a central planning agency where 1 minister and other are responsible for the development program the central planning agency office is responsible for all the combination of entire sector to help public at large.
  5. Planning agency are sometime given a variety of other power which is also part of development activity of the region. The onus of agency include not only the formulation of plan but supervision and implementation of the whole exercise.[11]
  6. The integration and modification of policies are generally began by any ministry or agency. Economic wing of government of the day play very important role because all this process can be met only when there is a ample amount of financial support. Foreign financial and technical support is indispensable in the same regard.
  7. In both sphere public and private development activity has much to do with the technical support and logical thinking on the part of planners. Therefore, the preparation of the basic policy over the year has been marked by the said criteria as a result they achieve the desire goals in public and private areas.

In addition to that government organization are suppose to obtain the approval of council for their investment and to look that weather or not they are within the framework of national development plan.

Planning to NITI

Whenever we talk about planning in India we accept the role played by Nehru in the same regard. However, on account of changing context of time we now go for a NITI Aayog which is different from the earlier one on various account:

First, it is think tank unlike the planning commission. Secondly, Ideological shift in government decision-making. Now we are no longer concern with the Nehru’s view on how country should go for the development. Thirdly, NITI is different from the planning in one more sense is that unlike the first the existing place of development activities and would be happened in a more tangible way.

Fourthly, these are ample data to suggest that existing structure modern state to us. NITI Aayog because of its inclusive nature of NITI Aayog. Finally, with respect to role of agencies the creation of NITI Aayog hold great significance because it stand for Mao era  in India to deliver to development. Planning commission stood for a advisory agent where as NITI Aayog stand for think tank or forum of the government of the day which offers tangible solution to the country consorting now.

Toward new planning framework

NITI Aayog, the government’s policy think tank, is on working on a sector-based medium-term planning framework. The new planning framework could replace 5 year plans, the last of which is set to end in 2016-17. It was possible to synchronise with the finance commission cycle, the financial approval of schemes and projects of both the central and state Government, India. [12]

In new format, The government had constituted a committee for proposing a new format of budget statements and accounts. The committee to be headed by Special Secretary Expenditure will co-opt state secretaries.[13] We need to move to a cost-centric approach where establishment, schemes and project are treated as such and revenue-capital distinction will be the basis of expenditure classification as required by the constitutional framework.

Interplay Between Structure and agencies

A practice-based approach to understanding knowledge diffusion within organizations, it draws upon structuration theory (Giddens, 1984) to examine and interpret the case study findings. The aim of the analysis has been to explore the often-neglected micro-processes of organizational change (Tsoukas and Chia, 2002), but in the particular (and under-researched) context of construction project organization. This has been done by charting the ways in which the initiatives in each firm were shaped as they were diffused and embedded within each project-based organization, in ways that reflected the dynamic interplay between structural conditions, on the one hand, and managerial interpretation and agency, on the other. The findings from the case studies show how important are the rules of signification and legitimation, as well as the power resources, mobilized by both individuals and organizations in their attempts to impose or resist change. [14]

Case Study of Delhi Urban Art commission (DUAC) 

Do centralized planning agencies help?

In a country like India any planning activity must have support of masses in a sense that it will represent them in a true democratic manner. The same had been done in “master plan” in India. Out of 22 poll takers 52% said yes while 48% said no that mean vast population of country do not think that the agencies has help the country.[15] This is a matter of great concern for the policy makers. Simply because when a such large population do not favour the project setup by government then there is a something wrong with the planning itself.

Some of the expert even pointed out that due to inefficiency issue in implementation or on account of inability to adapt the right planning strategy, planning agency has not been able to do good job. In 1950, planning commission was setup with a resolution of the council of minister. It also demand that the role of planning agencies has to touch the ground reality before it take any assignment of development in India. The reason is very simple that however, good our policy are so long as it remain unconcerned to the need of masses it will remain futile activity.

Urban design is the discipline that forms the interface among multiple disciplines related to planning of cities including architecture, engineering, transport, and environmental planning. There is increasing recognition that density and design both play an important role in shaping cities. Singapore is well known for its ‘smart’ densification with limited land at its disposal. A number of studies have shown that design intervention through planning leads to an enhancement of economic and social value of a city.[16] However, urban design has been an area of darkness in India’s Master Plans.

The reason for adopting a planned economy in India is generally considered to be Nehru bent toward soviet model of governance. He was highly impressed the way soviet had been developing that time therefore he want to replicate the same success in India also. What is interesting to note is that some consider Subhash Chandra Bose the real founding father of Indias development planning.

Generally, we think that all is well in urban planning in India which is no longer a case there was a great difference of opinion between Nehru and others. C. rajagopalachari and Patel were very critical of Nehru’s model of governance but at the same time Nehru incorporated their view in order to make them happy that was ability of leader to form a consensus. Planning is a daily task that we undertake for our self. We do plan for us but we never allow others to do a planning for us. The same idea applies to the government when they plan they must acknowledge the ground reality and make sure that policy are not based to serve the narrow concern of leader but for the public at large.

Management of planning does not simply mean the manager and CEO of big corporate but at the same time it includes the weaker section of society like vendors and other local shopkeeper. It is for the government to decide what they can sell and how? Then only their planning will become the inclusive in nature. An equal world is myth that can not be achieve as long as the sizeable population of country mired in a abject poverty, now focus should be their to help poor to get closer to rich.

Urban agencies in local governance

As we seen above that planning in India is carried out by these agencies with accordance to local agencies notably MCD, PWD, NDMC these are some of the key agencies which play an extremely important role in the urban planning in India. In some way or other way we found our self dependent on them for our daily transaction therefore their role become more important that in anything else.

Why they works so efficiently to make our life more easy the answer lie in the fact that they have a very specific goal to attain. The demarcation of area in which they have to perform make their task more simple than others. There are many initiatives taken by the local agencies to make a public participation in their efforts. Let us discuss some of here :

“Bhagidari” (A program conduct by MCD). From its inception our government has short to device a mechanism to fulfill their citizen government participation agenda in the same light this Bhagidari has came into place where all the government officials short the public participation in their all activity.[17] To make it a sustainable programme government of the day came up with a completely new detail plan, scheme of citizen government interface this Bhagidari workshop covers many activities, documentation of paper award for senior citizen are some of the activity of this.

Moreover, there are number of step that is being taken by the government to insure the level playing field for both the section of given society. We know that in 2011 government of India launched a new flagship programme called Rajiv Awas Yojana (Ray) with a purpose to help the state in order to assign the property right by way of land or built up space to slums dwellers. New slogan of RAY is that “SLUM-FREE INDIA” June 2016, Central Government has so far approved 9 RAY projects for the cities development. As many as 5,193 dwelling units will be constructed in 83 slums. It begins in Berhampur, Odisha. [18]

It is a very important step which was taken by government to regularized the land for poor people in India. RAY also reserve certain amount of land for economically weaker section and low income groups in every project of land and housing in India. Ministry of housing and poverty alleviation (MHUPA) has been associated with RAY to prepare the documents for needy people which remain impossible for them in the absence of regular income.

Role of media agencies

The advertising agencies will propose best method in a very creative way to convey the message to masses about the concept and programme the government is doing for their betterment. The media agency is responsible for the strategic recommendation of media activity. After analyzing our work we came to know that audience objective, participation, frequency and balance between theory and practice only be reach through detailed media plan that maximized the government message to people at large.

Current Challenges and its solutions

  1. Universal perspective to urban plannings;
  2. Miss understanding of historical and theoretical context of planning;
  3. Vacuums between urban development pattern and plan objectives;
  4. Increasing role of non-state actors;
  5. Lack of exposure to different approach of urban planning;
  6. Irrelevant syllabus of urban planning schools in india.

Some Solution for current analysis of urban planning in India

However, a need to promote the value of good urban design to occupier organizations or agencies and extend value concerns beyond prestige markets, use planning powers and regeneration resources proactively to promote positive change, educate key stakeholders about good urban design and address the urban design skills deficit, learn and apply the lessons from successful and less successful urban design practice etc.

Moreover, solution for current analysis of Urban planning in India becomes more important. We need to do very hard work in the above field of study but few solution are here like: Different approach to different planning, correct understanding of context to perform, lesson from previous plans, Bridge the nexus between different goals, Active role played by state reduce the unnecessary role of non-state-actor, Relevant and modern model of planning which suit for the city.


Principal message of this paper is that in Indian urban planning require huge transformation in a existing way how we perceive the notion of planning in india. the overriding presence of centre has to have reduced in order to serve the purpose of  true planning in Indian  context. Absence of adequate land. rampant corrupt practice ,bogus document is some of the key area which need special attention from the policy makers to deliver just planning in india. There is also problems making land available to the poor masses so that their just desire can be meet.

The purpose of this paper is to make us understand the overriding presence of central government and hampered the growth of urban cities in India. It draws our attention to the requirement of connectivity which can only be done through mutual cooperation between various agencies of India. new cities along growth corridor must also be developed within a framework of transit-orientation, related land use planning and inclusion as an indispensable criterion for assessing the role of planning agency in urban development, India.

(Author, Trilok Singh, M.A. Political Science, Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi. Founder and CEO of Youth Darpan MediaIASmind. Studying at ISOMES, Noida and Rau’s IAS Study Circle, CP, New Delhi).

Footnote and Endnote

[1] Mumbai probably holds the record of 17 years, exhausting two thirds of the Master Plan period in its preparation. The Delhi Master Plan 2021 started in the late 1990s as an extensive modification of the earlier 2001 Plan but came into force only in 2007.

[2] Ahluwalia, Isher judge, Planning for urban development in India. ICRIER, 2015.1-3.

[3] The Master Planning approach has varied across the states of India.

[4] The Act has provisions to provide fair compensation to those whose land is taken away, brings transparency to the process of acquisition of land to set up factories or buildings, infrastructural projects etc. and assures rehabilitation of those affected.

[5] In 9th meeting of the Central sanctioning and monitoring committee (CSMC), Andhra pradesh and Madhya Pradesh releases a  Revised Guidelines of PMAY-HFA (U) on 26 May,2016,

[6] The JNNURM follows 2 track strategies. Track 1 consist of integrated development in 63 identified mission cities. Track 2 consist of UIDSSMT and IHSDP for catering to other cities. Track 1 consist of 2 sub-mission: “Urban Infrastructure and governance”(UIG) under the ministry of urban development and “Basic services to the urban Poor” under the ministry of Urban Employment and poverty alleviation.

[7] P P Shrivastav Member, North Eastern Council (Statutory planning body for the North Eastern Region) Formerly, Commissioner Municipal Corporation of Delhi Special Seretary, Ministry of Home Affaris, Govt. of India.

[8] See Low.setha, spatializing culture: The ethnography of space and place.

[9] TNN, “Government plans to get rid of dumpyard in 20 big cities in just three year.” Economic Times, 13 oct, 2016), accessed oct 14, 2016, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/government-plans-to-get-rid-of-dumpyards-in-20-big-cities-in-just-three-years/articleshow/54826363.cms

[10] The planning unit in a central planning agency where 1 minister and other are responsible for the development program the central planning agency office is responsible for all the combination of entire sector to help public at large. Where one ministry or other agency is responsible for an entire sector, it prepares the sector programs in the sector program; but if 2 or more ministries or agencies prepare programs in the same sector the central planning office is responsible for combining these programs into a program for the entire sector.

[11] Specific field which were to be turned over to the new ministry, in addition to the usual powers of a planning agency, included authority over drought programs, sanitation aid to Indians, the statistical system and the census, assistance to municipalities, regional banks and the development territories. Daland, Robert T. “Chapter IV. The politics of the plano Trienal, 1963-65”p.7,

[12] Ratan p. watal, “NITI Aayog plans planning new framework”, The Hindu, April 12, 2016, accessed 12 October, 2016.

[13] Structural Reforms and improving productive capacity can enhance long-term growth.

[14] The wider implication for understanding knowledge diffusion in construction project environments is the need for a mode of analysis- provided here by structuration theory – which is sensitive to the socially situated nature of knowledge and to the complex and dynamic interplay between structural context and conditions of agency that occurs when new knowledge is being embedded (and disembedded) within organizations.

[15] Research associate, center for Justice @India Institute, Akshita Manocha, 22nd may 2014.1-2.

[16] See The Value of Urban Design by CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) and DETR (Department of Environment Transport and Regions), (Thomas Telford Ltd, London, 2001), 1.

[17]Bhagidari, is a means for facilitating citywide changes in Delhi, utilizes processes and principle of multi-stakeholders (citizen groups, NGOs, the Government) collaboration. It applies, the method of large group interactive events. Goal, to develop “Joint ownership” by the citizen and government of the change process and more importantly facilitates people’s participation in governance.

[18] PTI, “RAY:construction of 288 houses begins in Berhamapur,Odhisha” Indian Express, 08 June, 2016, accessed 15 October, 2016, http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/rajiv-awas-yojana-construction-of-288-houses-begins-in-berhampur-odisha-2840981/


    1. Ahluwalia, isher judge. Transforming our cities: “Post cards of change”. hardcover. Harper collins India, 13 feb, 2014.
    2. Suzuki, H., R. Cervero, and K. Iuchi. Transforming cities with transit: Transit and land-use integration for sustainable urban development. Technical report, The World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013.
    3. Yang, Perry P.J. and S.H. Lew. An Asian Model of TOD-The Planning Integration and Institutional Tools in Singapore: In Transit-Oriented Development: Making it Happen, eds. Carey Curtis, John Renneabd Luca Bertolini, Ashquate Publishing Ltd. 2009.
    4. Ahluwalia, Isher judge, Ravi Kanbur P.K. Mohanty. Urbanisation in India : challenges opportunities and the way forward, SAGE publication India, 2014.
    5. Lainton, Andrew. Decision, Decision, Decision, July 7, 2011.
    6. Clark, P. and Staunton, N. Innovation in Technology and organization, Routledge, London, 1989.
    7. DELHI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY. Master Plan for Delhi-2021 (Incorporating modifications up to March 2016) Draft compilation for reference only. MASTER PLAN FOR DELHI-2021. New Delhi. 2016.

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