“People-centric approach crucial in urban development”

A ‘Right to the City’ Campaign was launched earlier this month in Delhi! Realising that half of the country’s population will call urban India home by 2025; The Right to the City campaign aims at making urban spaces more inclusive, keeping in mind the lakhs of migrants that move here from rural India every year.

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Patiala MP and member of the Standing Committee on Urban Development Dharamvir Gandhi, who attended the launch, said there was a need for people-centric approaches in urban development. From recreational spaces to adequate housing, making the rights of an urban citizen integral to planning is the agenda of the campaign.

“We may be going to Mars and starting bullet trains, but it means nothing when UNICEF says 40 per cent of Indian children are malnourished. We need to ensure a just society for the working class as it creates wealth,” said the Aam Aadmi Party MP.

He said that it would be a long-drawn process and pressure would have to be put on the government, but “just cities” would be on the agenda. Mr. Gandhi said with the government planning on launching ‘smart cities’ there was a need to make sure that the urban poor were not excluded. As per its draft charter, the campaign will support the urban poor, advocate with government agencies for their concerns, and start periodicals and an e-resource centre.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Secretary Anita Agnihotri said Delhi was “becoming more exclusionary”.

“When we plan for cities, we have to plan for all. People will come to cities, whether you like it or not. For quite a while now, we have stopped preparations for new migrants,” said Ms. Agnihotri.

She said the Narendra Modi government had planned 100 smart cities, 500 new cities, and heritage cities. But, she said that policies would have to be people-centric.

“We plan housing with the aim to get land vacated, but we need to plan with people in mind. We made 10 lakh houses in the past decade and many people refused to move in because we never asked them what they wanted,” said the secretary.

She said urban planning must include access to services as well as employment.

The campaign’s launch saw representatives of 15 organisations come together. Similar launches will be held in other cities across the country and customised charters will be brought out.

You can participate in the campaign and see their official page at: https://www.facebook.com/righttocitycampaign/info?tab=page_info

Collaborating the Urban-Poor and Non- Poor: Long way to go

by Abhishek Jha, PRIA Bihar

In the last few decades Urban Poverty has been emerging as a key developmental challenge for a developing economy like India. This has also been well established by the data provided by the most recent Census of India (2011). Undoubtedly many initiatives have been taken by the government and parastatal agencies to address the challenges and issues of urban poverty, but one the problem which has remained persistent is the issue of inclusion and acceptance of the urban poor in the larger urban society.

Its notable that majority of these urban poor work in the urban informal sector which ultimately provides critical services to the cities, right from keeping the cities clean, to providing cheap labour, domestic help, cheap transport, just to name a few. The fact of lacuna in policies cannot be denied as a major cause of the exclusion of urban poor despite playing a critical role for the cities and its dwellers. But a bigger cause which generally goes unnoticed is non-acceptance of the urban poor groups in the larger urban society. To address this societal exclusion PRIA along with its active Settlement Improvement Committees (SICs) tried to collaborate with non-poor groups urban groups so that the process of inclusion can be instigated at some level. Continue reading Collaborating the Urban-Poor and Non- Poor: Long way to go

Congress launches 24-hour helpline for slumdwellers

The Delhi Congress has decided to follow the do-or-die mantra of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi after he said on Thursday that he will stand in front of bulldozers if anyone tries to demolish slums without giving the slumdwellers their due.
The party has launched a helpline for the slumdwellers who have been removed illegally or have received notices to vacate their huts. The 24-hour helpline will help the party in tackling the issue. People who need help on the matter can contact +91 8595595595.

Smart Cities – Convergence of design and governance

Renowned architect Rem Koolhaas recently spoke about Smart Cities and reflected on how more than ever do we need to converge the field of design with good governance! He argued against smart cites at a High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities, Brussels, on September 24, 2014. Summed up, Koolhaas argues that “by calling it smart, our city is condemned to being stupid.”

Highlights of the transcript of a talk given at the High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities, Brussels, 24 September 2014 is below. Read the full article at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/en/content/my-thoughts-smart-city-rem-koolhaas Continue reading Smart Cities – Convergence of design and governance

Urban Age conference gives a wake up call to Delhi!

Over 60 experts and policy-makers from 22 cities across 10 countries gathered here to explore the links between urban governance and the future development of cities at the 13th Urban Age conference that began on Friday. The experts compared Delhi’s urban dynamics to other Urban Age cities — London, Bogota, Lagos, Tokyo, New York, Istanbul and Berlin.

They found that despite the Capital’s relatively low-rise urban landscape, it has an extremely high average density of build up area, nearly twice the levels of the New York metro area and Tokyo. As a result, Delhi only has two square metres of green space per person, significantly lower than London (36 sq metres) and Berlin (39 sq metres). This increases the challenge of tackling Delhi’s average PM10 pollution levels, which are significantly higher than other Urban Age cities.

Delhi, like other cities in rapidly growing economies, has a high level of income inequality (measured by the GINI Index — the lower the value, the greater the level of social equality; and vice versa). While London has an index of 0.36 and Berlin 0.29, Delhi has a relatively high figure of 0.6, which is lower than Lagos at 0.64 and many African and Latin American cities. However, Delhi scores well in having a very low level of violent crime measured by the murder rate (homicides per 1,00,000 people), which is lower than New York and Istanbul.

Protest against Ward Committee and Area Sabha Act and Rules-Wed,26th Nov,10.30AM-1PM, Town Hall,Bengaluru

by CIVIC, Bengaluru

A CALL FOR PEOPLE’S GOVERNANCE IN KARNATAKA’S CITIES
Protest against the KMC (Amdt.) Act and newly gazetted rules on Ward Committees & Area Sabhas led by respected Gandhian & Freedom Fighter Sri H. S. Doreswamy
Venue: Town Hall, Bangalore
Date & Time: Wednesday, 26th November 2014, 10:30 am – 1pm

The 74th Constitutional Amendment, promising devolution of powers in urban areas, was enacted over 20 years ago. Yet ‘Nagara Swaraj’ is a far dream, with even community participation in urban affairs yet to be achieved. Karnataka’s urban citizens have no say in how government services should be provided in their ward, which roads should be repaired, how lakes should be protected or even how their garbage should be managed! The unconstitutional manner in which cities are being administered has resulted in multiple scams, mis-governance and dysfunctional cities.

It was hoped that the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Act of January 2011, brought in to fulfil conditionality under JNNURM, would strengthen community participation in urban areas. However, rules were framed for the Act only after the High Court Directive in December 2012 (while hearing a PIL on the garbage crisis). These rules created ward committees in name only without any real powers. Pressure from civil society led to a public meeting where the government was advised to re-draft the KMC Act itself, as is being done with the Panchayati Raj Act in Karnataka. Shri. Vinay Kumar Sorake, Hon’ble Minister for Urban Development, gave assurances at this meeting that the undemocratic aspects of the Act, such as the veto power for Corporators, would be addressed. Following this, numerous meetings were held with the Secretary, Urban Development, and recommendations were sent in from across the state to revise the rules so that the functioning of ward committees could be improved within the ambit of the Act. Continue reading Protest against Ward Committee and Area Sabha Act and Rules-Wed,26th Nov,10.30AM-1PM, Town Hall,Bengaluru

Higher, higher we will climb

by Swathi Subramaniam, PRIA

It is an uncommon sight to find a youth living in a high-rise building mingling and interacting with youth living in slums. On 13 November 2014, an attempt was made in B5 Bandhu Camp of VasantKunj, to bring together youth of community and youth of slum to talk to each other.

The Enact us society from SRCC, Delhi University works on social projects through implementation of sustainable livelihood solutions for slums and marginalized, http://www.enactusindia.org/index.php.

This was the very first time where a visit was made by undergraduate students studying in SRCC made an effort to meet the youth in Bandhu Camp B-5 slum. This interaction gave a first time exposure to youths living in the community to share their problems with the youth of their own age from a premier college of Delhi. Continue reading Higher, higher we will climb

Urban Forum by Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA)

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