by Shivani Singh, PRIA
In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. A phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.(wikipedia, 2014).Urban poor represent phoenix birdas their houses, livelihood, belongings,relationships and networks, rather their whole existence gets burnt either by residing in an unsafe place or due to powerful forces that surrounds them. Power can be of all kinds’ money, muscle, governmental orders or vested private interest. But still they continue to live and struggle.
Patna grapples with many social and economic issues. Urbanization is happening but at snail’s pace. The urban poor and urban slums of Patna are no different than other urban poor and slums of Kolkata, Jaipur, and Bhubaneswar which I got to visit this year. The problem of land, water, sanitation, education, health, and security remains common phenomenon everywhere.
I met the newly formed Slum Improvement Committee (SIC) Federation’s core committee members who will work for the development of their respective slums and engage in demanding various rights from the government. The core committee is democratically elected body by the SIC members in the PRIA intervened slums. The SIC members narrated the problems encompassing their slums and how SIC formation led to bringing in improvement in their community.
Ram Dheeraj Prasad, 62
“My basti was set on fire four times. Where should I go? I do not have any house. When I go to meet the government officials they call me ‘ganda aadmi’ and say, ‘kaun bulaya tumko, chal bhag yaha se’.
Despite of being rejected ad humiliated many times by the authority he still has the willingness to fight for basic rights for the slum he lives in with his grandchildren.
Bacchi Devi, 27
“There is a sewage treatment plant near our ‘basti’ when there is power cut the sewage plant overflows and our basti gets filled with filth. We can’t enter our slums. Our house gets flooded with filth and the livestock, our belongings flows away with it. It’s a regular phenomenon. Again we build our houses and live there. No other place to go.”
Munna Kumar, Sandalpur, age 27
I don’t have much earnings. My basti has been set on fire many times. It costs Rs. 10,000 to construct a kuccha house in slum. It’s difficult for us to every time build a new house. Government should resettle us in same place we live.
Sagar Ram, Dhobi Ghat, age 65
Our slum doesn’t have basic amenities. Eviction is our greatest fear. I legally own the land, yet it was encroach by few powerful people. Being powerless I tried to mobilize the community and together with their help and contribution we built a primary school. But as the school land is near a pond which get over flooded during winter seasons this hampers the studies.
Sharda Devi, Adalat Gunj, age 55
“There is no water facility in basti. A hand pump was installed with the help of an NGO (Water Aid). There is no school or crèche for children in slum.”
Rita Devi, Vetinari Campus, age 30
“My basti doesn’t have proper waste disposal system. There is no water, no electricity. The only insecurity is getting evicted from the place we have been living since long.”
Sanjay Kumar, Hima Nagar Ward 34, age 40
“I have been living in ward 34 for past 30-40 years. There is no water, no toilet, no drainage in our basti. There are many governmental schemes but they are least accessed by the poor.
We are associated with Dalit Vikas Samiti and PRIA and have formed a SIC that works for the betterment of community. We collected Rs. 25000/- from the community by taking a donation of Rs. 100 from each household and installed a 400 feet pipeline and a motor. This collective effort helped us in bringing in water in our basti. It’s because we collectivized we were able to think about how to solve the problem. The SIC also played an important role in putting pressure on the municipal commissioner to install a handpump in their basti.”
Ajay Kumar Malik, 34, Kankarbagh
“I also belong to basti that doesn’t have any basic amenities. I do manual scavenging and earn Rs 4000/-. The government claims that scavenging is abolished hence doesn’t exist but the same is false as in my basti itself there are 200 youths that are involved in manual scavenging. We get Rs 100 as wage for cleaning the gutter whole day! I worked in municipality for 3-4 years. Now that the work of sewage cleaning is contracted out I work on private basis.”
The above narrations of problems faced by the urban poor who are now part of SIC federation showcases a known picture of any slum. Eviction is the biggest insecurity with which the urban poor grapple. When asked from the SIC members what is the first thing you demand? They all answered unanimously that “we want land rights rest all can only come after we assume land rights. ‘Jaha hum rahe rahe hai hume vahi basaya jaaye’(rehabilitate us where we are living now).
Bibek Debroy in Policy Puzzles, Economic Times
India has been rapidly urbanizing and will continue to do so. What is “urban”? As is common with many other countries, there is a technical definition of urban in the Census. More accurately, it is a definition of a “town”. A town is (1) “All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee”; or (2) “All other places which satisfied the following criteria: a minimum population of 5,000; at least 75% of the male main working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits; and a density of population of at least 400 persons per sq km”.
The problem is obvious. If (1) is satisfied, we know who is responsible for urban governance, interpreted as collecting revenue and spending it to provide urban services. In addition, we know the conduit for devolution of public expenditure through assorted schemes. These are statutory towns. If (2) is satisfied, the habitation exhibits urban characteristics. However, since there is no (1), we don’t know who is responsible for urban governance. These are known as Census towns. In addition, though it doesn’t directly concern us, there are definitions of urban agglomerations and outgrowths. Census 2011 tells us there are 7,935 towns – 4,041 statutory towns, 3,894 Census towns, 475 urban agglomerations and 981 outgrowths.
A few days ago, ET did a story, flagging governance problems in Census towns that aren’t statutory towns. 3,895 is a huge number. Let’s take the example of Delhi. There are 3 Census towns in Delhi, Asola (population 5,003), Bhati (population 15,888) and Jonapur (population 7,419). There also happen to be 369 villages in Delhi. I find it a bit odd that there are two “villages” right next to where we live – Mahipalpur and Masoodpur. Why is it odd?
Because there is a Mahipalpur-Masoodpur main road that cuts across the heart of Vasant Kunj, from Chattarpur on one side to the National Highway on the other. The widening and maintenance of this road is the responsibility of MCD. But the street-lights (and assorted other things) along one side of the road are the responsibility of MCD, while along the other side of the road, they are the responsibility of the Panchayats concerned. There are shops along both side of this road and they aren’t dissimilar from each other. However, the Delhi Rent Control Act applies to one side and not to the other. (So I have been told.) But let’s leave the villages aside.
Read more at: http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/policypuzzles/an-urban-chaos-issue/
by Swathi Subramaniam, PRIA
It was my first visit to Jaipur. Jaipur is a planned city of Rajasthan and one of the most important tourist destinations of India.
Jaipur is one of the better developed cities of India. Here things definitely look organised. The city is very calm and composed,there a clear mix of rural and urban culture in the city. It is not as populated as other metros. It has good roads and easy accessibility within cities. I found many females driving two wheelers and cars. It is safe travelling on own for a woman butshe has to be alert all the time. There are plenty of autos and one does not face difficulty for travelling. However, the condition of buses is very pathetic. You can expect a superior public transport once Jaipur metro is operational from 2015 onwards. I found the food very delicious. There are many autos here,there was no difficulty faced during travel. Jaipur has always been a tourist destination so even if you are an Indian – shop keepers, auto-rickshaw, general public etc. identify just by looking at you whether you are a tourist or a local resident.
It is easy to travel in Jaipur. I had a small conversation with an autowala, he said, “my family used to live in Delhi for many years but it was a struggle based life. We struggled for everything but could not save anything. But after moving to Jaipur we have our own home, decent living, much better than Delhi. He had a Samsung smartphone. Another auto driver I had met had the latest Apple mobile. They have all the facilities and have comfort in Jaipur. He lived with his parents in his own house in Jaipur. They were all well-dressed and have income enough to satisfy their materialistic needs. According to Transport Department of Rajasthan, upto March 2013 – there are 22,248 autorickshaw registered in Jaipur, 8,105 in Kota, 8,222 in Bikaner and 4,758 in Ajmer.This shows high influx of migration to city and growth of informal sector.
The city of Jaipur is very much dominated by hand loom, handicrafts, traditional artisans and other traditional industry. They all can be categorised as medium and small scale industries which is completely labour dependent. These industries in Jaipur flourish only because Jaipur is a global tourist destination. These industries enhance the charm of the city. While the tourists enjoy visiting the monuments in Jaipur, they also enjoy shopping. A tourist is completely delighted looking at the ethnic things around. While shopping in Jaipur the temptation drives you to buy everything possible. The shopkeepers do not leave any chance to hold the interest of tourist. The shopkeepers are very much friendly. The prices appear relatively expensive and is understandable considering that it is a tourist destination.
I did not find slums adjacent to main city areas. Thus there is a big contrast between the JMC areas and walled city of Jaipur.
The Rajasthani context of Urbanization
Growth of urbanization in Rajasthan is very different when compared to urbanization in other states. Rajasthan since historical times is ruled by Rajas, Maharajas, Rajwadas etc. Kota is the most urbanized district of Rajasthan according to a study, followed by Jaipur, Ajmer, Bikaner. Due to high level of migration from rural to urban areas the decadal growth in population is highest in Jaipur. The cities in eastern and northern parts of the state have grown more rapidly than the western parts of the states. The connectivity to Delhi is visible through the National Highway 8 – Delhi- Jaipur – Ahmedabad/Mumbai which is a good example of the impact from neighbourhood state. Other major factors of growth in economy of Rajasthan are agriculture, industry, tourism and crude oil.
Different areas in Rajasthan hadbeen ruled by various kingdoms. During their ruling era they developed their provinces and their ruling cities. There were many small towns built during the era. For example – Ajmer, Mewar, Kota, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Bikaner, Jaisalmar etc. What makes me think is that Rajasthan does not have an industrial base of economic development, but a growth led by Tourism, Hospitality, Ancient culture, Handicrafts industry (traditional industry) when compared to other cities like Gurgaon, Delhi, Noida, Chandigarh etc. This traditional industry which was earlier in rural areas has come into mains cities of Rajasthan to benefit from tourism.
The walled city area is highly congested and chocked and is inflicted by poverty, unemployment, poor health etc. Walled city had streets, chowks, bazars, colonies, walls, temples etc. built in the 18th century itself. I could not visit the walled city areas this time but hope to see it next time.
Over 11 million people in Brazil, about 6 percent of the country’s total population, live in slums of cities called favelas, according to the latest census figures. Among the myriad challenges that arise in these dense, impoverished urban areas, getting mail may seem to be a surprising one. Yet due to the unique, improvised architecture of favelas — the fact that structures are often created and destroyed rapidly, using a variety of available materials, such as concrete, that are impenetrable to mapping satellites — many buildings don’t have addresses. Further complicating matters is the fact that many streets are called different names by residents in different areas. As a consequence, postal workers haven’t been required to deliver mail in these areas, frustrating residents. Many areas only appear on Google Maps and other digital maps in extremely limited forms, as a single road, for example (controversially, Google also removed the word “favela” from some of its maps at urging from the Brazilian government).
But a group of enterprising friends recently decided to tackle the problem starting in Brazil’s largest favela, Rocinha, using good old pen and paper.
by: Mr Subhash Bhatnagar, Coordinator, Nirman Mazoor Panchayat Sangam
A National Campaign Committee on Construction Laborers has recommended the following additions to the BOCW Act to make it truly comprehensive to ensure regulation of employment and working conditions including safety as well as social security to all Building and other Construction Workers including migrant workers:
1. Definition of BOCW to include Stone Quarry and Brick-Kiln workers and the workers transporting construction materials.
2. To ensure Compulsory Registration of BOCW in the Tripartite Board including migrant workers, by making it a condition in all Tenders and Plans; Registration of workers to be through Trade Unions and provision of Smart Card to ensure portability as well as Work book in which the employer has to make entries, disbursement of benefits according to seniority within 1 month of application.
3. Employees’ Compensation Act, Sector 10 B, to be invoked for all fatal and major accidents and employers made to deposit money with Labour Commissioner, which would be transferred to home-state for dependents’ enquiry and disbursal.
4. Standardization of Benefits to be ensured in all States/UTs – Accident Relief to the tune of 5 Lakh for fatal accidents, Monthly Pension (15 days wage based on minimum wage), ESI medical assistance, Maternity Benefit (90 days minimum wage), Education Assistance to children from 1st Std to Highest Standard, Financial Assistance for chronic and occupational diseases, Crèches and Housing to registered workers at construction sites and in residential clusters.
5. Action Plan for Migrant labour families to include Temporary Ration cards, Education in mother tongue, crèches, Health care and Assistance centers in Migrant Labour areas.
6. Grievance Redress Mechanism at the District level to ensure justice for applicants for registration and claims
7. Dispute Resolution mechanism at District level to resolve disputes between employers and workers, etc
OTHER PERTINENT ISSUES
1. Amendment in the ESI Act to be able to implement ESI scheme through Tripartite Welfare Boards.
2. Amendment of Inter State Migrant Workers Act to change the definition to make it applicable to all ISMW irrespective of whether the contractor and workers are registered in home state or not and to include Action Plan for ISMW registration as beneficiaries of the board.
3. Compulsory registration of Construction Workers as beneficiary like compulsory registration of Construction establishment with the liability to register to be on the employers.
4. To ensure that all State/UTs Boards to authorize trade unions to certify the working of 90 days in last one year since the employers and the Labour officials are not willing to issue such certificate. An amendment in the main Act of 1996 is required in this regard.
5. There is very wide discrimination in schemes which are being implemented through tripartite Boards in different State/UTs formed under Sec 22 of the main Act. There is an urgent need to bring uniformity and standardization of schemes and procedure around the whole country. Many crucial schemes such as immediate assistance in case of accident and financial incentive for the education of children are not being implemented in many States/UTs.
6. Within a week from the issue of this circular a Petition to the Parliament will be prepared on the basis of the discussion that took place in the8th July, 2014 meetingofNational Campaign Committee on Construction Labourersand circulated.
APPEAL FOR PARTICIPATION
7. In the meeting it was decided to collect signatures of construction workers all over the country on the Petition containing Demands and observe Demands Day in all the State Capitals on 27th Nov, 2014.
8. In the meeting it was decided that on 3rd/4th Dec, 2014 a Dharna will be organized at the end of which the signed Petitions would be submitted to Prime Minister, Union Labour Minister and to the Petition Committee of Lok Sabha &Rajya Sabha.
9. All the Central Trade Unions and their affiliates are requested to participate and support the National Campaign of Construction Workers to oppose the anti-Worker amendments moved by the government and to support the pro-worker amendments moved by the independent trade unions of Construction Workers.
10. The Boards need to take the help of actuarian science to allot the funds collected so far for providing long term disbursements under different schemes formed under subsections of sections of Sec 22(1) of the main Act.
11. The meeting was informed about the decisions taken at the meeting of the Coordinators of National Platform of Domestic Workers held on 7th July, 2014 to seek the support of Construction Workers Campaign for the Domestic Workers campaign. The meeting was informed that a National Level Public Hearing will be organized at Delhi between 7th- 12th November, 2014 to high light the conditions of work of Domestic Workers and the need of Comprehensive Central legislation. The meeting assured mutual support of the both the campaigns for each other.
Please ensure your support to the above line of action by responding to this circular to:
A city needs to be developed at social, economic and aesthetic levels. Ideally in a developed city the poor,non-poor and government should work in tandem. However, in India, poor are left out in the planning process, the non-poor do not act and government is shackled in its own bureaucratic structure.
To address this felt problem and need as expressed by the poor and non-poor a multi-stakeholder dialogue was organized by PRIA Bihar on 15th September 2014 in SBC Hall, Patna. The objectives of the consultation were:
1. To sensitize the people on common problems faced by urban poor, non-poor and government,
2. To provide a platform for interface and dialogue between the poor, non-poor and government
The consultation saw enthusiastic participation from various stakeholders such as Mr. Samrat Choudhary, Ms. Pinki Kumari, Ward 21, Counsellor, Minster for Urban Development, Govt. of Bihar, Amrita Bhushan, President Patna Favorite Lion’s Club, Govind Kumar Bansal, BJP former Chairperson, Jhuggi Jhopari Manch, Dr. C. P Tahkur, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Gazaffar Nawab, Member, AITUC Patna, Mr. Johagar, Mr. Ranjan Sinha, Chief Functionary, Nidan, Mr. Nikhal Ranjan, WASH, Mr. Vishwa Ranjan, PPP Expert, Plan India, the community members and PRIA and its partner NGO.
Mr. Choudhary and Ms. Pinki, representing the service providers of the city and the State, gave an insight on the ground realities. Mr. Choudhary, a futuristic and visionary officer, has the hope that Patna should one day be compared to Sweden which re-uses 90% of its waste. He highlighted that we need to focus on four aspects in Bihar:
• Political Democracy
• Efficient Bureaucracy
• City Planning
• Single window clearing system
Mr. Ranjan Sinha of NIDAN, discussed at length the fate of various programmes and schemes for urban poor in Bihar such as the un-successful JnNURM and RAY. Land allotment to slum dwellers was and is a major issue in the state and the city. It is obvious that the voices of the poor are not being recognized fully in the current planning and policy environment. However, there have been some initiates such as the pioneering slum policy, vendor policy and upcoming builders act which are positive ray of hope in including the poor. He stressed on the need to have many more of these initiatives to integrate the poor and non-poor in developing an inclusive city.
The ground reality and issues of the urban poor and unrecognized informal workers was raised by many speakers including Bansalji, Nawabji, Johagarji. Other speakers and participants also highlighted how the need of the hour is to concentrate on schemes for water, sanitation, housing and employment for the poor.
The community members also raised many of their concerns such as:
Prakash stated: “Settlement improvement committee has been formed in our slum settlement. We all got collectivized and even mapped our area. However, the maps that we uploaded are not being recognized by the government. The government says that schemes like Rajiv Awas Yojana are not redundant. But they haven’t given us any alternative!’
Shankar Dev Mehato articulated that ‘traditionally the work of cleaning toilets is done by Mehtar caste in Bihar. Today people from other castes are doing this work. We do not have work which is why we are not able to educate our children. Other caste people are given jobs by the government. Today the work done by us is taken over by others. We are not able to do traditional work. We are deprived of our traditional work. The government deprived us of government job. Today in the government we have people from upper class also cleaning the toilets mainly due to corruption. The poor should be asked about the poverty not the rich’
The dialogue led to an exhaustive discussion and concluded with few recommendations for ‘inclusive city building’. Some of these are as follows:
• Availability of basic amenities in slums, water and sanitation facilities as priority needs
• Eviction shared as huge cause of concern and source of insecurity by poor
• Generate avenues of gainful employment in the city for urban poor
• More initiatives from non-poor to be taken up to work for and with poor
• Micro-financing for urban poor to start their own small scale businesses
• Right to land as the basic rights for poor, other needs as house, employment, water, and sanitation will come into picture once the land is allotted to poor in their name
• Computer Literacy Programs for urban poor
• Evaluation of schemes that failed to achieve their objectives like RAY, JNNURUM, slum development programs etc.
• Awareness programme on newly emerged concepts like ‘smart city’
• Conducting survey and researches on issues of urban poverty and urban governance. PRIA conducted a path breaking study to find economic contribution of urban poor has dissolved many myths such as poor spend majority of money on liquor. Instead they spend majority of their income on food.
• Need to develop a skilled labour force
• Training need to be identified by the NGOs and logical plans needs to be prepared
• Political Democracy, Efficient Bureaucracy, City Planning and Single Window clearance shared as pillars to achieve city development objective.