Planning Act: A Reliable Source for Town Planning

India being a developing country, needs to transform Indian cities and towns. In a country like India, where the population growth is comparatively higher than in any other country, this increases the population in the cities and towns. Migration also increases the ‘rural’ population, overcrowding, congestion, deterioration, and haphazard development in most cities and towns.

Town Planning becomes essential to manage the country’s growth, and for that purpose, the planning act got introduced. Managing the cities and villages of the country can only be done by giving a regular shape to the irregular plots. Further, the required growth and development are only possible by providing periodic and regular construction and proper access to infrastructure such as water supply, drainage, electricity, etc.

Town Planning- Meaning and Concept

Town planning is managing land resources in a manner in which people can use them efficiently and effectively. It involves strategically controlling the current and new development and ensuring future generations’ needs.

Town planners try to balance the needs and demands of the landowners and developers along with the community’s needs and concerns. It is a fact that only successful planning can protect the environment and promote the regeneration of resources.

Town planning retains the best of the past while nurturing creativity and innovation in developing a sustainable future.

According to Collins dictionary, town planning means “The planning and designing all the new buildings, roads, and parks in a place to make them attractive and convenient for the people who live there.”

According to the Cambridge English dictionary, town planning means “the planning of how towns and cities should get constructed to make them pleasant to live in.”

Background of Town Planning Act

The history of planning in India started with the Bombay Improvement Trust Act 1920, and similar enactment came into force in other presidency towns.

It was only after the visit of Sir Patrick Geddes to India and his propagation of the work-home place theory that the foundation to set up the improvement of the trust got started. It laid the foundation of the thinking process of the legislation related to the Town and Country Planning Act of the state. It also built the foundation for setting up T&CP departments in various states to address the problems of growing India. The Urban Development Authorities came into existence under the Urban Development Authority Act, which formulated Master Plans consisting of social and economic aims.

Evolution of the Town Planning Act

The Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 of the United Kingdom inspired India to develop the statutory process of a master plan that formulates the town planning system. It felt a need to develop the master plan to have a comprehensive town and to plan on lines of the United Kingdom. However, earlier this, there was no provision in any Town Improvement Trusts Act for preparing the master plan.

The Central and Country Planning organisation drafted the Model Town and Regional Planning and Development Law in 1982, which formed the basis of the Town Planning laws in various states of India. The provisions of Model Law required multiple states to develop the model according to the condition that suits the state. The government revised the Model Law or the Model Regional and Town Planning and Development Law in the year 1985 for the enactment of comprehensive urban and regional planning legislation in all States and UTs.

Various problems arise while developing the country, like shortage of houses, uncontrolled settlement, increased densities, etc. It becomes essential to enact legislation tackling the problems related to town planning to resolve such issues. Some of the existing laws used for clearance, development, and control of urban land are:

Sanitary Commission, 1864

Sanitary Commission is an agency formed in undivided India in 1864 and empowered with the responsibility to improve the town. Further, in 1984 the Sanitary Commission was set up in Bombay, Madras, and Bengal at the instance of the Royal Sanitary Commission. Britain appointed the Royal Sanitary Commission in the year 1859. The sanitary commission aims to advise and assist in public health and sanitation matters. Also, the commission used to suggest the Sanitary Improvement of native towns to prevent the migration of epidemic diseases.

The primary goals of the Sanitary Commission are:

  • To improve towns
  • To represent civil, military, engineering, sanitary and medical elements.
  • To advise and assist in all the matters related to public health and prevention and migration of epidemic disease.
  • To select the station and improve the sanitary system of the existing system and bazaars.
  • To examine new plans for the hospital.
  • To take a decision overlaying of station and Bazar.
  • To improve native towns.
  • To prevent migration of epidemic disease.
  • Prepare a report on the causes and the means of avoiding sickness and disease.

Bombay Improvement Act, 1898

In 1898, the government constituted Bombay’s first improvement trust for town improvement or planning. The formation of trust was just two years after the outbreak of the bubonic plague. It compelled the government to take proper measures to remove the unsanitary dwelling and overcrowding of the necessary sanitary improvement to secure better living conditions for the people. Further, Mysore Improvement Trust and Calcutta Improvement Trusts were set up in 1903 and 1911, respectively.

Bombay Town Planning Act, 1915

Bombay Town Planning Act is the first enactment or legislation enacted in 1915 for town planning. This legislation confers the following power on the local authorities:

  • To regulate the future growth of the town.
  • To prevent the formation of slums by providing healthy dwellings.
  • To take active measures to make life comfortable for the poor and middle-class people.

The Model Town and Country Planning Act of 1960

With the increase in the growth and population of the country, the government found the old legislation ineffective in tackling the city’s problems. Thus, the need for comprehensive legislation arose. To solve the problem of the older enactment, the Institute of Town Planners, founded in 1951, drafted the Model Town Planning Act 1957. The Model Town Planning Act 1957 got circulated among all the states for proper implementation. Further, the revision of the Act by the Town and Country Planning Organisation, Government of India (the Central, regional and Urban Planning Organisation) in consultation with the State Planning department in 1960.

It only provides the essential guidance of the town planning legislation, and these guidelines satisfy the conditions and requirements to implement the Act.

However, some states did not enact town planning legislation even after Independence. The concept of town planning remains new to the Indian States.

The Model Town Planning Act got published in 1957. The enactment delta with the constitution of the planning authority for large areas of the state’s urban centers. This enactment contains a necessary provision that comes under or outside municipal limits. This legislation’s objective was to regulate the planned growth of land and the development of the state. Further, the Act aims to execute the town planning scheme in the state.

Importance of the Act

Following are the points stating the importance of the Act:

  • To create promising conditions for the planning and redevelopment of urban and rural regions to provide civic and social amenities.
  • To prevent uncontrolled development of land.
  • To maintain and improve the current recreational and other facilities.
  • To provide the facility for the orderly growth of commerce and industry.

Features of the Model Town Planning Act of 1960

The Act provides various essential provisions such as:

  • It provides the constitution of the state town planning board. The aim of constituting a state town planning board is to advise the state government on planning and local development and to operate a board principle and policy for the balanced development of the state.
  • The government under the Act is empowered to declare any area of the state as a local planning area. Such a provision is not applicable in the military cantonment area.
  • The state government can also subdivide the planning area. Further, planning constitutes a special planning authority or a town improvement board to function as a planning authority.

Constitution of the Planning Authority

The planning authority shall consist of the following member:

  • A chairman whom the state government appoints
  • A town planning officer who is the member secretary
  • Representative of the local bodies that come under the jurisdiction of the planning area
  • Appointment of three other members by the State Government

Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966

The MRTP Act of 1966 is an act to make the provision to plan the development and establish the purpose to use the plan to constitute the Regional Planning Boards. Further, the Act aims to make better provisions for developing development plans to ensure the town planning scheme is adequately prepared and effectively executed. The MRTP Act of 1966 contains provisions for new towns using development authorities.

The MRTP Act, 1966 also contains provisions for the compulsory acquisition of land required for a public purpose related to the plans.

Objectives of Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966

Following are the objectives of the MRTP Act are:

  • For Planning Development in “Regions”
  • For Constitution of Regional Planning Board
  • For the creation of new towns
  • For making provision for compulsory acquisition of the land
  • For the implementation of the Land Acquisition, plot reconstruction and many more

The Model Regional and Town Planning and Development Law of 1985

The Model Town and Country Planning Law got formulated in 1960 by the Town and Country Planning Organisation. TCPO revised the model act in 1985 to enact a comprehensive Urban and Regional Planning Legislation in all the states and the UTs.

This legislation provides for the constitution of the State Regional and Town Planning Board by the State Government. The purpose behind the formation of the state regional and town planning board is to advise the tracing of the region for the planned development. The Act further directs the preparation of the development authorities’ metropolitan, regional and area planning.

The Model Regional and Town Planning and Development Law of 1985 provides provisions to set up metropolitan, regional and zone planning and development authorities for various urban and rural areas within the state to organise the development plans and proper enforcement and implementation of those plans.

For coordination of the planning and implementation of the physical and development programmes, the Model Law provides the following steps for the administration of the law:

  • To prepare an existing land use map.
  • To prepare an outline for the comprehensive development plan and the enforcement of such a plan.
  • To prepare details to scheme for the development or redevelopment envisaged in the plan and their implementation.

Many states developed the Town and Country Acts based on the Model Regional and Town Planning and Development Law, 1985.

Urban Development Town Formation and Implementation Guidelines, 1996

The need arose in 1996 to assist the administrators and municipal town planners. Thus, to help the administrator, municipal town planners developed the guidelines for Urban Development Plans Formulation and Implementation. These guidelines were required due to the inefficiency of urban local authorities and to overcome the deficiencies of the master plan identified in 1995 during the National Workshop related to town planning held in Delhi.

The Urban Development Town Formation and Implementation Guidelines formed the guidelines for:

  • Preparation of spatial development plans and resource implementation plans for small, medium and large urban centres
  • Formation of an efficient implementation mechanism that brings out innovative ideas to promote planned spatial-economic development of urban areas
  • Simplify town planning laws
  • Recommend the interrelated plan as a perspective plan and development plan

Urban and Regional Development Plan Formulation and Implementation Guidelines, 2014

The Urban and Regional Development Plan Formulation and Implementation guidelines include:

  • Integrated regional and urban development that focuses on spatial planning
  • The regional spatial development frame provides the backdrop for settlement and local area planning.
  • To adopt a paradigm shift towards the planning and development of compact, green, innovative and safer cities.
  • To ensure the responsible carrying out of urban and regional planning tasks.
  • The guidelines include transportation planning consisting of street, road, mass rapid transit system, and improvement of the public transport system so that it increases makes public transportation the backbone of the urban regional development.
  • The plan for sustainable land development includes the selection of the proper density of the development while considering the environment, provision and the cost of infrastructure and mobility.
  • Sustainable management of resources by realising the pressure on natural resources, including the planning of infrastructure development, while emphasising the sustainability of the natural resources
  • The identification of planning regions as administrative regions like districts and metropolitan areas, investment regions and particular regions


The Town Planning Act played a vital role in the development of a country. It becomes essential for a country to prepare the plans per the state’s requirements and in such a manner that the planning meets the need of the country’s citizens.

Even after so many years of Independence, the town planning concept was not so privileged in India. The government introduced the concept of town planning even before Independence in 1947. However, the need for town planning legislation was still present. Thus, the town planning legislation is modified from time to time according to the need of society.


Which states do not have a comprehensive town planning act?

Haryana, Rajasthan and the Union Territory of Chandigarh do not have a comprehensive town planning act.

What do you mean by town planning?

Town planning is the process of development and growth in a planned, economic and artistic manner.

When was the first legislation for town planning enacted?

Bombay Improvement Trust Act, 1920 was the first legislation enacted for town planning.

What is the need for town planning?

Town planning is the science and art of shaping and guide for the growth of the country; however, without adequate planning, the country's growth can be at stake. Thus, to effectively use the property and development of the country, it becomes necessary to plan the country.

What is the purpose of town planning?

The town planning aims to ensure proper health care, convenience, beauty and environmental care. For effective town planning, the government must use the land properly and adequately divide it.

About Author

Anshita Surana, born in the year 1999 in Guwahati, Assam and brought up in Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, where I completed my elementary and secondary education from the CBSE board.

Currently, Pursuing B.B.A.LL.B(H) from K. R. Mangalam University, Gurugram.

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