Collaborative action for Inclusive cities: Role of Poor, Non-Poor and Government Bihar

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By PRIA Bihar and National Urban Team

PRIA held a State Level Consultation on ‘Collaborative Action for Inclusive Cities’ in Patna, Bihar today. The consultation gave an overview of the existing situation in Patna, the deprivation it is faced with and the urgency of developing an inclusive society through collaborative actions of all stakeholders- poor and non poor.
Find below the key points of discussions in this consultation:

Bihar is located in the eastern side of India, entirely land locked by West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. It has total area of 94,163 sqkm, with 98% of area being rural this means urban population resides in the 2% of remaining area. The state comprises 38 Districts in 9 divisions. It has 14 urban agglomerations and 199 towns. Bihar has an overall population of 10.41 crores, with sex ratio of 918 per thousand males. Literacy rate is 73% among males and 53% among females. The decadal population growth has been 25%. Population growth in rural area is 24%, and in urban area 35%. Bihar occupies a place second from the bottom with respect to the level of urbanization which is only 11% compared to the national average of 28%. As against this, urban poverty is as high as 44% against the national average of 24%.
Urban Poverty in Bihar and Patna
Census-2011 has for the first time attempted to enumerate socio-economy data also at household level such as quality of housing, water, electricity, literacy, access to education etc. Bihar state share of slum population to total slum population of India is 1.9%. The status of basic services in Slums of Bihar as a whole and Patna is illustrated below:

Table 1: Status of Basic Services in Slums of Bihar and Patna (Census 2011)

Rationale for Collaboration:
• Do people belong to cities and are cities ‘owned by’ people?Society is web of relationship and is bifurcated into two ‘rural’ and ‘urban’. In rural areas the relationships are straightforward, rooted, age old and binding. There is a sense of belongingness among the people. Whereas the relationships in urban areas are individualistic, specific and service oriented. The diaspora of population in urban areas belong to different geographically roots and there is no sense of belongingness towards the city among the urban population.

• Who facilitates relationship between poor and non-poor?A city is inhabited by poor and non-poor. Poor are the service providers and non-poor are manifested as middle class, clubs (lion, sports, rotary) media, CSOs etc. The relationships among poor and non-poor are largely defined by services offered by the poor and received by the non-poor section of the society. This mutual service based relationship among poor and non-poor remains informal and unorganized. Therefore the pertinent question here is who facilitates this exchange of service? Ideally municipality of the city should facilitate this exchange of service but in reality no such facilitation happens. This should get institutionalized in order to develop the city.To illustrate an example of informal relation between poor and non-poor in society we see that domestic workers who earn their living by working in rich and middle class households. The tangible economic relationship is visible when in lieu of proving services like cleaning, sweeping, cooking she gets paid in cash. But the immaterial relationship established with the homemakers, children and working couples goes unnoticed and unaccounted. Another example is of waste pickers who provide door to door services and segregates the household and city’s waste without any protective gears in low cost manner.
• Institutionalized mechanism to promote relationship: Institutionalization of service exchange between the service provider (poor) and service seekers (non-poor) will lead to healthy functioning of the city. This will benefit both the poor and non-poor. Example:Public health, sanitation, conservancy and solid waste management etc.

Basing our conversation on above examples we can say that urban poor workers play a pivotal role in making the city. Yet the bigger questions are:
1. Does the poor feel included and respected in the city?
2. Does the non-poor feel included in the city?
3. Does the city belong to them?
4. What are the provisions, platforms and services available with the government for bridging the gap between poor and non-poor?

How this can be done:
1. By identifying the key stakeholders in city:
• Poor (service providers) and people living in informal settlements
• Non-Poor (middle class, clubs (lion, sports, rotary) media, CSOs etc.)
• Local Government
• NGOs
• Media
• Academia
2. What should be their roles and how can it help in institutionalizing relationship of poor and non-poor for developing an inclusive cities?

A Working Model for Slum Rehabilitation

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How innovative regulation is enabling private capital to deliver social impact and realize attractive returns in Mumbai. Read more at:

August – Monthly Digest

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Here is a quick view of all the action on Terraurban in the month of August:
Terraurban- Aug digest
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When ‘City’ becomes ‘Slum’

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by Prakash Pathak, PRIA

We all are talking about Slum free City/India. But are we really serious to achieve this dream in our reality, in our own cities? I don’t think so. May be I’m wrong but last day very harsh statement given by Patna High Court on the status of Patna Capital “There is two type of Town; VVIP Area with all amenities and facilities and Public area as Dustbins” also stated that “Capital look likes as a Slum. Outsider doesn’t want to come here (for business, tourism)”. This reveals that the dream to see slum free India is still beyond our reach.

When Governments talk about utopian ideas such as slum free cities and equitable development, all these visions appear to me like unachievable and unrealistic dreams, very similar to “Mungeri Lal ke Haseen Sapne”.

If these utopian visions are like dreams, then what is the reality?

Reality is that healthy cities are turning into slums primarily due to poor service implementation by civic bodies. To this process the Government, sadly sits as a silent spectator. Patna is no different than this reality!

In Patna, it’s not just the ‘poor’ who are residing in the slums. Even the rich and middle class find an abode there. (See the picture below). When Capital Patna is in such a horrific situation then how will be the scenarios of civic amenities in other cities of Bihar like Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Bhagalpur, Gaya, Darbhanga?

We all have to change this situation with the help (cumulative effort) of Government, Civic Bodies, RWAs, Locals, NGOs, CSOs, Corporates and Businessman in order to achieve the Slum Free India.
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Urbanization with informal settlements in mind

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How can we ensure that all urban inhabitants have the necessary rights and conditions for a dignified and secure existence in the city? As the world rapidly urbanizes, the livelihoods, health, and safety of residents living in informal settlements remain at risk. These residents lack formal property rights and access to vital infrastructure and services. Recognizing informal property rights and improving the quality of housing in informal settlements are important steps toward meeting the basic needs of these most vulnerable urban populations.

Read more below:

Urbanization with informal settlements in mind.

Is the lack of human resources choking your city?

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Municipal corporations in India have neither any grip on the number of staffers employed and their skillsets nor any mechanism to ascertain these. Madhavi Rajadhyaksha discusses several studies including the ASICS from Janaagraha to expose what ails urban local bodies.

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Mexico divided: Stark unaltered photographs capture middle class affluence side-by-side with extreme urban poverty

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These striking photographs show the scale of poverty – and affluence – that live shoulder-to-shoulder in Mexican cities.
A modern, luxury apartment block towers with confidence over its surroundings. Residents enjoy the view from their rooftop gardens but – tellingly – have set up large screens to block out the view in one direction.
If they were to peer round the barricades, however, they would be confronted with a slum-like maze of cramped, tumbledown concrete constructions just inches from their plush existences.

The photographs were produced by ad firm Publicis, based in Mexico City. In a nod to the sheer disparity on display, creators of the anti-poverty ad campaign, called Erase the Differences, felt compelled to put a disclaimer on each picture reading: ‘This image has not been modified. It’s time to change that’.

Haves and have-nots: This lavish block of apartments can be seen right next to a sea of tumbledown flats – though residents have blocked off the view


Haves and have-nots: This lavish block of apartments can be seen right next to a sea of tumbledown flats – though residents have blocked off the view

Striking: The bright whites and colourful roofs of the wealthier homes are a graphic contrast with the dull concrete just over the wall
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