Monthly Archives: March 2012

Houses for Urban Poor hang fire

By Diana Sahu


BHUBANESWAR: It will take two more years to give facelift to three slums in the city. The work being undertaken under Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP), a component of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal� Mission (JNNURM), was launched in 2009 targeting slums at� Nayapalli Sabarsahi, Bharatpur Vikash Nagar and Dumduma.

�Under the project, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) is supposed to facilitate construction of concrete dwelling units besides infrastructure like community halls, water pipelines, community toilets, sewerage, roads, streetlights and plantation.

Even as the project was to end by this month, only about 60 to 65 per cent of the total work has been completed. Under BSUP, the Centre provides assistance to the tune of ` 1.7 lakh for construction of each dwelling unit and an occupant has to bear 10 per cent of total cost.

�As per reports, 12 clusters in Bharatpur, five in� Dumduma and one in Nayapalli Sabarsahi having 1,135, 754 and 73 housing units respectively would be developed under BSUP. Till February-end, 578 dwelling units� were completed in Bharatpur, 270 in Dumduma and 35 in Nayapalli Sabarsahi.

�Infrastructure-wise too, while around 60 per cent work on drains, roads and community toilets have been completed in Dumduma and Bharatpur, no work has started in Nayapalli Sabarsahi in the absence of land.

�Sources attributed the delay to lack of monitoring of the project, no coordination among departments and delay in finalisation of tendering process. “Of all the three slums, Nayapalli Sabarsahi has been the most difficult one. There is no land here which is the major reason behind the delay. After several rounds of discussions, the slum-dwellers have agreed upon vertical construction of dwelling units. At present, the housing works are on after completion of which infrastructure works would begin. In the other two slums, works have been more or less satisfactory,” said Municipal� Commissioner Vishal Dev.

� The Commissioner added that since the Cabinet Committee on� Infrastructure had approved for two-year extension to projects under JNNURM, the Corporation is hopeful of completion of the BSUP project by 2014.

�Home to over three lakh, the 377 slums in the city have long been crying for attention, primarily the basic amenities. The steadily increasing number of slums and its dwellers has been putting tremendous pressure on the urban basic services and infrastructure.


Climate Change Threatens the Poor in Cities

Analysis by Manipadma Jena
BANGKOK, Mar 27, 2012 (IPS) – India, like other Asian countries, has focused its climate change adaptation strategies on rural and urban areas while neglecting the urban fringes, say experts.

Peri-urban areas are characterised by haphazard, accelerated expansion and are farthest from basic urban services and infrastructure, according to United Nations-Habitat’s ‘The State of Asian Cities 2010-11’. By 2020, of the projected 4.2 billion urban population of the world, 2.2 billion will be living in Asia, many in peri-urban areas, the U.N. report says.

“These are places where nobody is in charge,” said Stephen Tyler of the United States-based Institute of Social and Environmental Transition (ISET), while in the Thai capital to attend the Mar. 12–13 Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum.

“Populations residing in peri-urban areas are most vulnerable to climate change because they have neither the modern infrastructure, clean water, and sanitation available in urban areas nor the ecosystems that rural folks fall back on,” Tyler told IPS.

“Climate change exacerbates land and resettlement issues in Asia,” said Youssef Nassef, coordinator of the adaptation programme with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and a delegate.

“In India, while the municipality’s administration area is demarcated, responsibility for peri-urban areas is fragmented. Where are the policy levers for peri-urban areas, for example, in India’s policy?” Nassef asks.

India is not alone in neglecting peri-urban areas. Last year’s devastating floods in Thailand provided a good example of such neglect.

“What is Bangkok and what is not Bangkok is the question being asked after the flood,” said Jonathan Shaw, executive director of the Bangkok-based Asian Institute of Technology.

“Bangkok’s urban sprawl spreads seamlessly to its suburbs, yet the business district with large foreign direct investment got priority flood protection,” Shaw said. “The flood manifested the fissures in the urban and peri-urban.”

“People here think the political factor played a major role in flood intervention. While two-tonne sand bags were available to prevent flooding into Bangkok city, the suburban provinces got only small sandbags which failed to keep the water out,” Shaw said.

Cities that are not socially sustainable can never be environmentally sustainable, said Marcus Moench, who heads ISET. “The vulnerability of any city is directly proportional to the quantum of marginalised populations and to the exposure.”

“As India urbanises, we see more and more poverty pockets because it is urbanising in an unorganised way,” ISET researcher Shashikant Chopde told IPS.

According to India’s federal ministry of urban development, by 2051, 48 percent or 820 million people of its estimated 1.7 billion will be living in 6,500 urban settlements.

For these new arrivals from ‘push migration’ dynamics with low-skill sets and earning ability, peri-urban areas are preferable to the crowded and expensive city cores.

In a report launched at the Bangkok forum, the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) said that by 2050 some 1.4 billion Indians will be living in areas experiencing negative climate change impacts.

India’s coastal region will become “further vulnerable to climate change impacts due to high urbanisation, rural–urban migration and dwindling agricultural productivity,” says the AsDB report titled ‘Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific’.

“If migration is not carefully planned and assisted, there is a serious risk that it can turn into maladaption, i.e. leave people more vulnerable to environmental changes,” AsDB report warns.

Chopde says that in India while many city slum dwellers are eligible, under the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, for low-cost safe shelters, clean water and sanitation, inhabitants on the city fringes are unable to avail of the schemes thanks to blurred administrative boundaries.

“This is because they are included neither under rural nor within urban local governance systems,” says Chopde. “As cities grow, peripheral lands are becoming increasingly attractive to commercial developers, and once again, low-income informal settlements are pushed away to cities’ new outer periphery.”

“If a city’s master plans are strictly followed, peri-urban areas could be developed for climate-smart farming, helping to prevent city water logging.

“Since much of the vegetable supply comes from a city’s fringes, livelihood security for peri-urban inhabitants and food security for city dwellers could be ensured.” Chopde suggests.

Experts at the Bangkok meet said that the challenge of building climate resilient societies could no longer be the responsibility of governments alone.

Saleemul Huq, who heads the Dhaka-based International Centre for Climate Change and Development, said at a media roundtable here that countries need to “build social capital by training a wide cross-section of people to better prepare for climate change at a time of unprecedented urbanisation.”

While there is no cookie-cutter solution, Anna Lindstedt, Sweden’s ambassador for climate change, stressed that planning and adaptation strategies should be context-specific and tailored to localities.

“The process of engaging diverse partners, of building a shared understanding of climate risks and urban vulnerability, of developing joint and separate interventions and building a shared platform for ongoing learning is more valuable to the resilience building effort than any other strategy itself,” states ISET’s 2011 publication ‘Catalysing Urban Climate Resilience’.

The report discusses study-based climate vulnerability and resilience -building strategies of a network of cities in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand supported the by Rockefeller Foundation through Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network.

For India, the best bet is still community-driven development, says Bharat Dahiya, researcher on peri- urban areas at U.N.-Habitat’s Asia-Pacific regional office in Bangkok. “In India, self-help, voluntarily initiated by civil society, even if ad hoc in nature, is of crucial importance,” Dahiya said.

Art and Design – a catalyst for social cohesion?! – a picture blog

By: Nidhi Singh nee Batra, Senior Programme Officer, PRIA

“What is a City?”

City is “a theater of social action,” and everything else-art, politics, education, commerce-only serve to make “the social drama richly significant, as a stage-set, well-designed, intensifies and underlies the gestures of the actors and the action of the play”.

 City is “above all things a ….theater”

– Lewis Mumford (1895-1990)

 A quest in this stage of action is to permit all actors to perform and act in a just and equal manner. In a context where the poor and the marginalized are excluded in the society and physical set up of the city, how is it that ‘design’ and ‘art’ can attempt to make the lives of these any better?

Here is a  picture blog that shall take you through – in answering just that!

In 2007, I had an opportunity to work as an Urban Designer in the slums of South Africa with a team of 75 other professionals through Global Studio. The project highlighted below is in the slums of Alexandra – Johannesburg.

The township of Alexandra (Alex) was established in 1912 and is close to the center of Johannesburg. It covers an area of over 800 ha (including east bank) and its infrastructure was designed for a population of about 70,000. Current population estimates vary widely and have been put at figures ranging from 180,000 to 750,000.

Its original stands of size of 500-600 sq.m are characterized by sizeable houses of reasonable stock but usually with 3 – 6 additional separate rooms built in the original gardens, each usually housing an additional family who rent from the main householder. The additional rental units, which provide a significant income to the main householder, are termed “backyard shacks” although many are of brick or block construction of reasonable quality.

There are an estimated 20,000 shacks of which approximately 7,000 are located in “backyards”.

Intervention: Urban Revitalization through Re-appropriating Public/ Semi Public Spaces

What is a public space?

A public space may be a gathering spot or part of a neighborhood, downtown, special district, waterfront or other area within the public realm that helps promote social interaction and a sense of community.

Possible examples may include such spaces as streets, plazas, town squares, parks, marketplaces, public commons and malls, public greens, piers, special areas within convention centers or grounds, sites within public buildings, lobbies, concourses, or public spaces within private buildings

Characteristics of a Great Public Space include:

• Promotes human contact and social activities.

• Is safe, welcoming, and accommodating for all users.

• Has design and architectural features that are visually interesting.

• Promotes community involvement.

• Reflects the local culture or history.

• Relates well to bordering uses.

• Is well maintained.

• Has a unique or special character.


Existing Public Spaces at Alexandra

Alexandra has a unique urban pattern, with a hierarchy in movement pattern with primary east-west roads, secondary north-south avenue roads and a tertiary movement through internal yard spaces . These yard spaces act as SOCIAL SPACE OR A SEMI-PUBLIC SPACE in a compact extremely dense settlement.

The functioning of the yard is undergoing transformations which direct a threat to its characteristic of an active social space. These vary from a very physical problem of maintenance, limitation/restriction of its connectivity against how it was used by residents to move one yard to another.

This restriction is generally a wall or an illegal encroachment which restrict the pedestrian movement. Thereby the transverse movement through series of yard connections, now no longer exist in a legible pattern. Loss of the inter-connectivity / through connection has resulted in low/no maintenance of yard spaces by the community along with the loss of an active social space

Yards are formed in the cluster of houses between the avenue roads.Yard space itself holds permanent structures such as the house, shack, room along with temporary structures/ infrastructure/ facilities such as toilets. It is currently used as social space for private purposes like meeting, sitting under the sun, washing-drying and playing.

The front part of a yard is mainly occupied by the ‘owners’ while the backside is generally rented. They have no vehicular access, and the pedestrian access is narrow. The inter-connectivity between the yards has been blocked and restricted by the residents. Most of the residents have constructed a wall or defined a defensible space

Approach for intervening through design:

I. Yard Networking – Utilizing ‘heritage’ as a resource to generate heritage walks/ paths that promote yard development and rejuvenation

II. Personalizing ‘Public Spaces’ to generate a sense of responsibility/ participation

I. Yard Networking

Over 100 heritage sites have been identified in Alexandra and now 25 have been prioritized by the Alexandra Tourism Society. Each will get signage in the coming months indicating its significance. A heritage and culture map has been compiled detailing their locations. Examples of the heritage sites include the Alexandra Beer Hall, Twelve Apostles Church of Africa, prominent family homes, the Alexandra Cemetery, hostels, Freedom Square, the Anglican Mission School, and the Msomi Gang headquarters

Also, any Yard Improvement project should respect the desires of the residents which ranged from developing mixed use in their yards, to even dreaming of having their own swimming pool! We worked with the community on how they envisison thier Yard Spaces!


Objectives of the Yard networking project

 1) Functionally seeing the yard as a multipurpose space, and include various public and personal activities within it.

2) Physically the yard space needs to be improvised, with proper sanitation; wastewater management, pavement etc and residents need to take interest and initiative for its up gradation

3) Economically, the multifunctional character of yard itself is an opportunity to generate employment for women, unemployed youth etc through the house itself.

 4) Socially, the potentials of yard as a civic and social space is immense and it inherit in local culture.

5) Connectivity through the yards would network a third legible movement pedestrians path, which would not be in conflict with the intense vehicular movement on the avenues

Heritage Resource as an ‘opportunity’ – Developing concept of Heritage Walks Alexandra already has 25 identified heritage structures, which are associated with South African Apartheid struggle. Heritage here is expressed as its symbolic significance rather than the architectural value of the structure or its style Thereby, Heritage structures in the Alex were seen as the medium to connect appropriate yards and heritage structures internally. A physical Heritage Zone is then extracted after seeing the intensity and density of Structures between first to twelfth avenues vertically, and between Hofmeyer to Jo Nhlanhla Roads horizontally The walk intends to go through the semi-public yard spaces. The project aimed to achieve dual functions of Yard networking as well as Community networking, connecting heritage structures. The project involves Physical Yard improvisation, and adding new commercial functions, which the owners and residents can capitalize on.

II. Personalizing ‘Public Spaces’


  • To engage residents especially children in the processes of forming their own spaces.
  • To celebrate the creative potential of everyday objects.
  • To build friendships through creative expression


Use concrete blocks that are used as multi-purpose building blocks in the slum of Alexandra as the ‘community binding block’

Explored potential alternative uses for the concrete block:

• Heritage walk markers

• Safety house markers

• Off the grid lighting

• House numbers


Involved local children to ‘personalise’ these building blocks:


They created a park too in their own slum – in one empty vacant plot!


The blog above is just a reminder for all of us –that there are many ways to reach to the community; there are many ways to communicate with and to them! Art, architecture, design – all can together work towards social justice!

All we need to do is use the many varied tools that we have to catalyze social cohesion and action within the communities we work!… and have fun!

Slum – to be or not to be!

By: Deepika Pandey, Assistant Prgramme Officer -PRIA

In the year of 2005-2006 Raipur, Municipal Corporation had enlisted the various slums in its jurisdiction, their population and locations under JNNURM. According to that list, the total number of slums in Raipur was 282.Thereafter, as result of the implementation of various central and state sponsored schemes many these slums have shifted, demolished and rehabilitated. However, the list was neither changed nor revised by the municipality.

 PRIA in February 2012 has taken initiative to enlist the slums of Raipur, understand their typology and vulnerability in the present urban context, and also to facilitate a movement of strengthening the spirit of community participation and voice against urban poverty.  

The article below is a quest of seeking answers to the changing realities and conditions in what municipality calls a ‘slum’. The article is a memoir of Puraina slum in Raipur City.

(click on the image below to enlarge it on your screen)


‘Cutting corners’ proves dear to these residents – Bangalore

Source: Hindu Paper , by Mr. Mohit M. Rao

Houses built by slum board develop cracks in Sadamangala

It’s been little over eight months since Leela S. shifted from her tin-shed in Byappanahalli into her allotted house constructed by the Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) in Sadamangala near Whitefield. However, the unbridled joy of obtaining a house for just Rs. 18,300 — something unthinkable in the city — soon turned into fear as cracks started developing on the floors and walls of her second-floor home.

“When there is rain, water leaks through the roof. Because of this, cracks have appeared in the walls,” she said. Some cracks are so wide that one can glimpse the wide hinterland of Sadamangala village outside her house. With windows and doors having already come off their hinges and cement chipping in chunks as she runs her nails on the walls, she said: “They told us the house will be in good shape for at least 10 years. I don’t know if the roof and walls will last for even a few years.”

His experiences are shared by other allottees of houses constructed by the KSDB under Phase I of the Basic Services to the Urban Poor scheme. Residents of 30 slums have been relocated to 11,603 houses under this phase, with a sanctioned amount of Rs. 261.17 crore under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

Cutting corners

With the average cost per dwelling unit coming up to Rs. 2.25 lakh, KSDB officials said that the funds were inadequate. “Steel prices have gone up from the first estimate of Rs. 48,000 to Rs. 58,000 during the time of construction, while labour prices keep increasing in the city. We have had to find ways to cut corners,” said an official.

‘Cutting corners’ was apparent in the houses under Phase I constructed in Laggere. Its first occupant had moved in only six months ago but the pipes were coming off their hinges and staircases were chipped.

In Sounder Raj’s house which The Hindu visited, cheap plastic doors had holes in them and lofts were missing.

Though admitting to poor quality of construction, a KSDB official said houses built under Phase II of the scheme were of better quality. These houses received a higher funding of Rs. 124.27 crore for 3,151 houses (around Rs. 3.94 lakh per house).

But Chinna Thambi, a resident of a Phase II construction in Laggere, does not think much of his home.

“The walls have started chipping everywhere. It seems like they have used more sand than cement in these houses,” he said.

Similarly, in the Srinivasapura complex, near Yelahanka, residents said the construction was not “up to the mark”. “I would say the construction is around 60 per cent of the quality that a good construction house should have been,” said Suresh, a resident.

Status and opportunities of development for Urban Poor/slums dwellers in Jaipur city

By: Mr. Krishan Tyagi, State Coordinator, PRIA- Rajasthan

Rajasthan has 68,621012 Population with share of 24.89 percent (17,080,776) of urban population[i]. Rajasthan has 184 Urban Local Bodies i.e. 6 municipal corporations & 178 municipal councils/boards. 22.4 percent (38, 26,160) of urban population have to reside in slum areas in Rajasthan[ii].

Jaipur city is state capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur city has 3,073,350 populations with 17% share of total urban population of Rajasthan. Jaipur city has 32.2 percent decadal growth in population.

Urban Poverty and slums is one of the most critical problems in urban development today. In Jaipur too, they are a serious issue.  10 percent of the population is below the poverty line in Jaipur[iii].

6, 88,430 (22.4 %) urban populations have to reside in slum[iv] areas in Jaipur city in 2011[v]. 238 slums[vi] location are listed by administration in 2011.  Processes of slum development are jointly administered by Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC) in 192 slums and by Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) in 46 slums. Jaipur city has enlisted 59476 slums household[vii].

The biggest katchi basti in Jaipur is located east of Jawahar Nagar along bypass road where about 7000 families are residing. The slum dwellers often get located on any vacant plot in the city convenient to them. These are predominantly the environmentally sensitive locations in the city including forests, flood prone areas, etc. In Jaipur, majority of the slums are located on forestland. 27% are in flood prone areas and 18% along main roads[viii].

The slum improvement programmes have been initiated in the city from 1973 onwards. The main programme includes the National Slum Development Programme (NSDP), Valmiki-Ambedkar Awas Yojana (VAMBAY), BSUP (JNNRUM) and other improvement programmes by JDA. Though, BSUP has great potential to improve the condition of slum dwellers of Jaipur in mission mode. But, unfortunately benefits of BSUP have not been much utilized. However, large numbers of slums have been benefited with basic infrastructure i.e. pucca pathways, public stand posts for drinking water, streetlights, public latrines and open drains, primary health care centres and shelter. Pucca houses were also provided under various initiatives i.e. 4500 pucca houses; those washed away due to heavy floods in 1980s, 1940 houses have been constructed for slum dwellers under VAMBAY[ix].

With an aim of creating a slum-free India, central government has launched phase-1 of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) to facilitate affordable housing for slum dwellers.   The Centre would provide financial assistance to States willing to assign property rights to slum dwellers for provision of shelter and basic civic and social services for slum re-development and for creation of affordable housing stock under the RAY scheme. The scheme is expected to cover about 250 cities, mostly with population of more than one lakh across the country by the end of 12th Plan (2017). The scheme will progress at the pace set by the States. All six municipal cooperation (Jaipur, Ajmer-Puskar, Udaipur, Kota, Jodhpur and Bikaner) of Rajasthan are covered in phase-1 of RAY[x].

RAY has inordinate potential to benefits slum dwellers of Jaipur city. It has unique features to eradicate urban poverty like a) entitlement of property b) delisting of habitation from slum list, those have minimum basic facilities ( pacca pathway), water, toilet, pacca house, drainage) and located on non-hazardous areas.

JDA and JMC nodal agencies in Jaipur city have started the preparation to implement RAY. Slum listing and profiling work is in progress to prepare Slum Free City Plan of Action (SCFP). On the basis of first hand finding JMC officials informed half of the slums in Jaipur (about 100) have basic facilities, which are just required legal notification for delisting from exiting list of slums. Herewith, we are mentioning few names of the slums for reference i.e. Bais Godam (Chota & Bada), Ambedkar Nagar (Kartarpura), Hathroi Bawadi and Mukhya Sodala. However, a large number of slum dwellers have to live in very much pathetic condition for example Phush ka Bangala (near main railway station), near Mental hospital Azad Nagar/Raja Park and inside of Amani Sha ka Nala[xi].

RAY is a comprehensive scheme to make Jaipur a slum free city, if it would be executed with motivation and right spirit.  State political leaders need to give more attention to avail the benefits of RAY. However, state political leaders seem more keen to provide houses in the rural areas. Under the ambitious scheme named Mukhyamantri Gramin BPL Awas Yojana’ Rs. 3,400 crore had been arranged as a loan from HUDCO for providing dwelling units to 7 lakh BPL families in the next three years. Together with the Indira Awas Yojana works, housing facility would be extended to a total of 10 lakh BPL families in this period.  But, those who, reside in slums are needed more attention

5.6 percent of Rajasthan total populations and 22.4 percent of urban populations have to reside in slums; these people also need attention of political leader in order to get benefitted by national scheme like RAY, which has large proportion of share as the grant given by center. If, state political leaders would also pay attention on executing RAY with the same spirit of  ‘Mukhyamantri Gramin BPL Awas Yojana’, which government takes even loan to execute the scheme.

[i] Census, 2011

[ii] Estimated population in period of 2011-2017, Source: Report of the Committee on Slum Statistics, GOI, MoHUPA, National Building Organization, New Delhi, August, 2010.

[iii] Source: JMC, 2006; City Development Plan (CDP), Jaipur, under JNNURM, Department of Local Self Government, GOR, April, 2006.

[iv] Definition of slum:  Katchi Basties/slums have been thus named in Jaipur, as the rural migrants who inhabit these live in kutcha house in clusters. The houses in the slums are mostly made of walls with mud mortar and roofs. These katchi basties can also be termed as ‘squatter settlements’. These basties lack the basic infrastructure facilities that are required for a decent quality of life. Source: City Development Plan (CDP), Jaipur, under JNNURM, Department of Local Self Government, GOR, April, 2006.

[v] According to Census 2001, Jaipur city has 350,353 populations (15.07% of total urban population). With Estimated 22.4 % growths in Rajasthan Urban population according to Report of the Committee on Slum Statistics, GOI, MoHUPA, National Building Organization, New Delhi, August, 2010.

 [vi] Source: JMC & JDA

[vii] As per survey conducting in preparation of RAY, 2011; Source: JMC & JDA.

[viii] City Development Plan (CDP), Jaipur, under JNNURM, Department of Local Self Government, GOR, April, 2006.

[ix] Ibid

[x] Guideline for  Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY)

[xi] Firsthand experience through field site visits and interaction with slum dwellers

TERRAURBAN quoted “To seek causes of poverty…

TERRAURBAN quoted- “To seek “causes” of poverty in this way is to enter an intellectual dead end because poverty has no causes. Only prosperity has causes.” – Jane Jacobs

How would you define ‘urban poverty’?.. comments are welcome!!!!