Participatory planning processes in Indian cities: its challenges and opportunities

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Sudeept Maiti, Joao Villela De Faria


Historically, India has had strong local governments and probably drawing from this, is the spirit in which the country enacted the 73rd and the 74th constitutional amendment acts (CAA), in 1992. This amendment aimed at a redistribution of powers to enable local bodies which are closer to local issues to respond more quickly and efficiently, rather than relying on a distant central body. However, the practices in participatory planning in Indian cities have been, at best, tokenistic in nature in the face of the challenge of implementing an effective decentralisation processes. The paradigm of citizen engagement and participative planning today must shift from one of the traditional redressal of grievances to that of collaborative solution building bringing both the government and citizen together in the development of local areas. This paper aims to analyse and evaluate participative local area planning practices in India, particularly at the level of the smallest administrative unit, i.e. wards. The study has been categorised in mainly two aspects: institutionalised and non-institutionalised processes dealing with participation at the bottommost rung of planning. This study is an attempt to highlight successful models of engagement, institutional structure and processes that allow for effective participatory planning and to identify possible ways of overcoming challenges of inclusiveness, budgeting and financing and the disconnect between citizens and administration in this process.


Local area planning; Ward Committees; fair representation; budgeting; citizen engagement; Citizen-led initiatives; 74th amendment

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