Author: terraurban

A ‘smart’ idea for urban ills?

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Source: A. Srivasthsan, The Hindu

The urban future depends on making cities intelligent, and that applies equally to both new and old parts of the city.

Given the fact that the existing cities, which accommodate a bulk of the population, waste a lot of resources and are energy-inefficient, they urgently require smart solutions. It would be better to treat the smart city proposal by the government as a kind of urban experiment or a prototype, whose lessons and experience could be used to develop cities in general.

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Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) would like to invite you to a Press Conference to launch its new publication -

(Report 1: Savda Ghevra, Delhi; Report 2: Kannagi Nagar, Chennai; Report 3: Vashi Naka, Mumbai)

Date: Friday, 11 July 2014
Time: 3.30 pm
Venue: Indian Women’s Press Corps, 5, Windsor Place, New Delhi

Given continuous reports of the inadequacies of resettlement across India, HLRN, in collaboration with its partners, conducted a detailed human rights assessment of three large resettlement sites in Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai. This publication presents the findings of the independent studies, and proposes recommendations to the state and central governments. HLRN hopes that this publication will help towards improving housing and living conditions in India, and in developing an alternative, human rights-based paradigm of urbanisation (and resettlement) that enables the creation of inclusive and equitable cities.

Speakers at the press conference will include the authors of the reports (from Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai), affected persons, independent experts, academics, and human rights defenders from different parts of India.

Shivani Chaudhry
Executive Director
Housing and Land Rights Network
G-18/1 Nizamuddin West
New Delhi – 110 013

Of smart cities and (un)smart decisions – A tale of misplaced priorities

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Source: Arvind Unni,
It has been more than a month since the Modi-led BJP government swept to power at the Center, primarily riding on the anti-incumbency wave against the UPA, and on the promise of good days ahead (ache din aanewale hain).

Now, it is the (over-employed) mantra of “minimum government and maximum governance” that leads the policy-making discourse, advocating shrinking the top levels of government with “expansion at the grass-roots level”. Having worked on Mumbai’s housing and urbanisation issues at the grassroot level, I’d like to highlight the misplaced priorities and the consequent policy contradictions in urban areas that have emerged in the new government’s short tenure until now. This article analyses our urban future given the current political climate in light of a few recent incidents in Mumbai. It is time for the State to rethink its priorities and goals for urban India.

The BJP Manifesto – Promises Galore

The BJP’s election manifesto, like all party manifestos was full of loud claims for urban India. It clearly stated that “our cities should no longer remain a reflection of poverty and bottlenecks.” Contrary to the rural-centric policies until recently, BJP clearly views “urbanisation as an opportunity rather than a threat” and outlined an (albeit vague and contradictory) urban agenda to make cities “symbols of efficiency, speed and scale.” To achieve this, the manifesto makes many promises – it plans to prioritise low-cost housing and public transport, build 100 new cities, upgrade the existing 8,000 urban centres, use technology to improve urban services and also make development sustainable. The dream is powerful in rhetoric and imagination. But no one knows how these grand imaginations would pan out on the ground. If this very early tenure is to be analysed, it has frighteningly been heavily tilted towards intensive capital investment while the working poor and environment are at the margins of this envisaged development.

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Terra Urban Monthly Digest – June 2014

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Terra Urban is your daily urban blog. Here are the snapshots of dialogues on Terra Urban in month of June




Slum redevelopment a CSR activity: Ministry of corporate affairs

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LUBNA KABLY, TNN | Jun 26, 2014, 12.26AM IST
MUMBAI: Slum-redevelopment, road safety awareness and consumer protection services will be treated as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, according to clarifications issued by the ministry of corporate affairs in response to queries from stakeholders.

BJP’s election manifesto had promised to usher in a low-cost housing policy that would ensure every family in India a home by 2022. The ministry, in a circular, has clarified that slum-redevelopment or housing for economically weaker sections could be covered under the eligible CSR category of ‘measures taken for reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups’.

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Ragpickers to get voter ID cards

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Source: Asian Age,

The Delhi Electoral Office has come up with a new scheme to enrol ragpickers into the voters list. The ragpickers will now have voter identity cards to exercise their franchise.

An electoral official on Saturday said that in the first round of its scheme, the electoral office has successfully enrolled 1,500 ragpickers.

“We are committed to ensure that marginalised sections of the society like the homeless, ragpickers, transgenders and sex workers are included in electoral rolls,” said the electoral official.nCamps are being organised in the national capital from June 12 to July 11 to enroll ragpickers in all the 70 Assembly constituencies.

The electoral office has been taking the help of an NGO to prepare a list of ragpickers in each constituency of the capital.

Prakash Kuamr, president of NGO Sajag Society, said that the enrolment process is more intense in areas where the concentration of ragpickers are more.Mr Prakash said that his NGO had almost covered more than eight constituencies in the capital.

A total of 8,000 homeless people were enrolled in the voters list during the last Lok Sabha elections in Delhi.

“We face a lot of difficulties during the verification of the ragpickers who do not have a permanent address. But if we find such people more than three times at the same place, we mention it as their permanent address,” Kumar added.

‘Good meaning’ development schemes fail to reach the urban poor

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by Anshu Singh, PRIA

While Rajiv Awas Yojana states in situ development of slums for the slum dwellers on Government land, we came across a different story while working with the slum dwellers in Jaipur. The slum Poos ka Bangla, lies near Jaipur Railway Station, inhabited by people mostly engaged in hawking, wage labour, servants, rag pickers in the nearby area. People belonging to lower castes from the villages of the states of Bengal, Bihar, Nepal, Gujarat, Punjab etc. lives in the slum who are engaged in labour and hawking. Though they stay in government land, they pay rent to those who have encroached the land illegally.

The people residing in adjoining area, engaged in Government services or self employed, have encroached the land using political connection. They have constructed houses- kachcha/ pucca and have given them on rent to the hawkers, rag pickers, labour etc. @ Rs. 1000/month. There are around 143 households in the slum and residents of adjoining area have encroached around 4-5 plots on the government land. Using their political connection and in connivance with the government officials they have got the names of their sons registered in survey list of RAY. So even if the slum redevelopment plan would be taken up under RAY, houses would be allotted to those who already own a pucca house and not to the destitutes as their names are not included in the survey list. The homeless will remain homeless even after the implementation of RAY.

The slum dwellers are daily wage earners and have very limited earnings out of which they have to pay rent to those who do not even own the land where they are living. Both male and female members of the family earn to make their living. Their children are malnourished and cannot even avail basic education. On one hand the slum dwellers lack access to basic services from the Municipality and on the other they have to the people who are not even the owners of the land.

The urban poor are exploited as they were in generations past which have helped in the creation of slums. Exploitation of urban poor has been a clear, direct, and systematic, cause of poverty and social suffering. As per the Planning Commission report 75% of slum households have not received any benefits from any of the governmental programmes designed to alleviate poverty (Report of the Working Group on Urban Poverty, Slums and service delivery system, 2011). The case, as mentioned above where poverty and exploitation are going hand in hand, are one of the reasons why even after several efforts by the government for eradication of urban poverty, in which housing is one of the priority along with food and livelihood, the poor remains poor and initiatives to make the city slum free seems to be a distant dream of the government.

A glimpse of the slum Poos ka Bangla through google map:,75.789039&spn=0.001368,0.002642