20 July:The National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy, 2007 (NUHHP: 2007) interalia recommends to make and update regularly Master Plans / Development Plans. In this direction, earlier in 1996, the then Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment in collaboration with Institute of Town planners India prepared the `Urban Development Plans Formulation and Implementation (UDPFI) Guidelines’,
with a view to making urban planning and development process more effective, dynamic and participatory and also to reflect on the spirit of 74th Constitution Amendment Act, 1992; which among others, aims at developing urban planning, including town planning function to elected local bodies. However, as the Terms of reference of the UDPFI guidelines were restricted to preparation of spatial development plans and resource mobilization plans, efficient implementation mechanisms and simplification of town planning laws, it was not feasible to address the concerns of urban poor specifically access to housing and urban infrastructure, which needs to be addressed and catered for in the Master Plans / Development Plans.
It would be pertinent to note that the National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy – 2007 intends to promote sustainable development of habitat in the country with a view to ensuring equitable supply of land, shelter and services at affordable prices to all sections of society. It also underlines that 99 percent of housing shortage of 24.7 million at the end of 10th plan pertains to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Group (LIG) categories. Given the fact that 26.7 percent of the total poor in the country live in urban areas, the issue of affordability assumes critical proportion. Accordingly, the NUHHP:2007 undertakes to encourage State Governments, Urban Local Bodies, Development Authorities to periodically update their Master Plans and Zoning Plans to provide for housing and basic services for the urban poor.
At the local level NUHHP: 2007 emphasis that cities should prepare 15 – 20 years perspective plans taking into account deficiencies in housing and urban infrastructure with special emphasis on urban poor.
The Policy reaffirms the importance of small and medium urban agglomeration and towns which has potential for future urban growth and seeks to accelerate the development of such small and medium towns which can serve as generators of economic momentum and ultimately help reducing the rate of migration to existing large cities.
In the light of the fact that informal sector in urban areas is growing exponent, the labor force witnesses a rural to urban shifts, therefore it is important that the rural and urban areas develop in a symbiotic manner. To, bring about such symbiotic development between rural and urban areas the option is to adopt ` a regional approach’. The objective of such an approach is to develop rural urban continuum, which is ecologically sustainable. Accordingly the Policy seeks to use the perspective of regional planning as brought out in the 74th Constitution Amendment Act in terms of preparation of District Plans by District Planning Committee (DPCs) and Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPCs) as a vital determinant of systematic urban planning. In this regard, the Policy seeks to ensure refinement of town and country planning acts and their effective implementation.
All above issues highlighted in the NUHHP:2007 will have the bearing on the Urban Development Plan Formulation and Implementation (UDPFI) Guidelines and to this effect it is essential to address the concerns of urban poor for incorporating appropriately and adequately, all these issues in the UDPFI Guidelines for realizing the goal of `Affordable Housing for All’.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India, in collaboration with Institute of Town Planners, India is organizing one day National Consultation for Addressing the Concerns of the Urban Poor in the UDPFI, Guidelines on 21st July, 2008, at Vigyan Bhawan which will be inaugurated by Kumari Selja, Minister for Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India.