Monthly Archives: December 2012

Jaipur Slum Memoirs – Ignored rights of slum dwellers

Prakash Kumar Pathak from PRIA visited some of the slums in Jaipur where PRIA and her partners are doing extensive community strengthening programmes on urban poverty issues. Prakash took this opportunity to reflect upon the grave situations that these localities are struck with and also to reflect upon the contribution of PRIA and the partners.

J P Colony basti

In an earlier article on Terraurban, you read about JP Colony where a sewage drain runs right through the colony and the officials are not addressing the associated hygiene issues. This had prompted the residents to come together and make arrangements for basic amenities on their own. They pooled money to lay temporary water pipes running over the road surface and even connected a sewage line with the main open drain flowing along the slum.

However, local resident Rashid Khan said the on-surface water pipes were a mess and made it difficult for children and the elderly to walk in the dark. The slum locality, situated on a slope, is prone to such accidents with people falling over and injuring themselves. Naina Devi narrated the shortcomings of privately-laid sewage pipes, saying they were too small and choked frequently.

When Prakash visited the slum last week, the situation was no different. The councillor reported that since the coming year (2013-2014) is an election year, various issues of the basti are being discussed. Isn’t it interesting how development in urban poor areas is so intertwined with politics!

Another aspect that surfaced was how the community are taken for a ride because of their own ignorance and lack of knowledge, in this case while allotment of ‘tenure right’ or ‘patta’ to the slum dwellers. The community dwellers reported that they had  put in an application on a hundred rupee stamp paper along with additional fee of Rs 50 to local advocates to draft the application for them to avail the requite patta or tenure right. However PRIA and her partner informed the community that this was not required,  infact as per government orders the dwellers can file the application in plain paper with a signature or a thumb print. The ignorance and wrong information that the slum dwellers are subjected to does not permit them to avail the benefits that they do have the rights of!

The slum dwellers also informed that the applications of about 30-40% of alum dwellers have gone missing and about 60-70% have only obtained the requisite patta. Some dwellers allege that few of the community members have bribed the officials – however authenticity of the same is debatable, the municipal officials are however aware of the carelessness on their part and informed the community that they are looking into the matter.


PRIA and her partners have introduced a community notice board in the basti. Prakash however noticed that this community board is not even visible to the community – the board is hung too high to be adequately visible! Sometimes, even obvious reflections do get missed while intervening in communities- this was a simple but good lesson for the NGO.


Machra slum basti

The Machar basti is a rehabilated slum on Sikar road on the outskrits of Japur. Under BSUP, Jaipu Development authority had proposal for rehabilitation of 17 slums on three sites at Sikar road. The residents of Machar basti have been relocated from Vishwakarma Industrial Area, Ajmer Bypass Road where now an Anaj Mandi is proposed. However the conditions of this rehabilated slum are gruesome.

Prakash noticed that the community is housed on an un-tenable and unsafe area at the foot hills of rocky outcrops at Sikar road. The residents are now far from the city and their expenditure has increases manifold because of the travel cost. The residents are also unable to build their houses at the said location since they are unable to procure a no objection certificate that might help them in availing requisite loan. As a result, what one encounters in this rehabilitated slum instead of houses are plastic shacks! Not to miss that government did not provide any basic services either in this land before relocating these slum dwellers. To get fresh water, the residents end up paying Rs 100 each family per day.


Rehabilitation, slum upgradation and transit camps – all are treated with no planning and concern of the needs of the poor dweller. There should have been a mandate, a evaluation, reporting of how projects under BSUP or any other scheme do not follow the correct approach towards rehabilitation of slum dwellers and giving them the rights they deserve! Machar basti and JP Colony basti are just examples of what we see every day – all around us!


Shelter Associates: Inclusive approach to urban planning

Cities Alliance shared the following link and had this to say about it: Cities Alliance partner, Shelter Associates in Pune, India, has created a short video (8 mins) on inclusive approaches for citywide planning for the urban poor using a current housing project in Sangli as a case study.

Take a look today!

Six Lessons of community participation in Slums

In an article by Michael Hooper – The complexity of participation: learning from slum dweller mobilisation in Dar es Salaam, he provides six practical lessons for implementing a participation programme that recognises the differences between residents and makes all their voices count, based on research in Dar es Salaam

Before the eviction, the main mobilisation effort undertaken by residents was a grassroots enumeration, which consisted of a population census and comprehensive mapping of plots and households, based on methods used in India and Kenya by Slum Dwellers International. Enumerations are an increasingly common approach employed by residents of informal settlements and other marginalised communities to generate data that gives them a tangible identity and demonstrate they have the capacity to self-organise. They also serve as the basis for lobbying for policy change on behalf of evictees. Accepting that the Dar es Salaam eviction would take place, the movement hoped to use the data from the enumeration to lobby government for a grant of land for community resettlement.


Stanford’s Leonard Ortolano and Hooper examined the microdynamics of public participation in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The research sought, first, to investigate what motivates grassroots participation in mobilisation efforts around built environment conflicts, in this case a forced eviction. Second, it studied the consequences of this participation on participants themselves.


  1. The first lesson is that politics and power can strongly influence participation dynamics and outcomes. Renters were seldom found to participate in mobilisation efforts. The fundamental power differential between owners and renters in Tanzanian informal settlements is at least in part responsible for this difference. Other groups — including owners, policy makers and planners — considered renters to be second-class citizens when it came to the impacts of eviction and displacement. Perhaps more disturbingly, renters shared this perspective and felt that their voices were of little consequence to decisions about the future of their homes, community and livelihoods. These perceptions fundamentally affected renters’ willingness and ability to mobilise around the threat of eviction. This finding serves as a stark reminder to carefully interrogate how internal power differences within communities are likely to shape the dynamics of participation. It also highlights that tenure status is often associated with power and that renters can be all too easily overlooked in mobilisation efforts.
  2. The second lesson, related to the first, is that communities are more heterogeneous than we frequently assume. While this has been shown in many contexts, it is frequently forgotten by practitioners and policy makers in their enthusiasm for “community” participation. While organisers in Dar es Salaam focused their attention on the community writ large, albeit making efforts to include both women and men, the divide between owners and renters escaped notice. A fundamental cleavage in the community went unaddressed in the participation strategy and renters were largely left out of mobilisation activities.
  3. The third lesson is that it is important not to assume that everyone in a community will participate; only some will and it is vital to understand what motivates that participation. There are a wide range of factors held by scholars from different disciplines to influence decisions to participate in mobilisation efforts, including economic payoffs, social networks, group identification, political opportunity, relative deprivation, connection to place and even genetic and hormonal factors. The great range of possible motivating factors implies a complex decision calculus for individuals weighing the choice to participate.
  4. The fourth lesson is that it is essential to understand what the possible consequences of participation might be and whether these could have negative implications for participants. In Dar es Salaam, residents who participated fared worse in terms of some post-eviction resettlement outcomes than those who did not. The reason for these differential outcomes rests on the fact that participants spent their already limited time engaged in group mobilisation activities rather than securing their own new, post-eviction homes. This reveals that practitioners and policymakers need to be very careful when they draw on the limited time and resources of the poor in participation efforts, as this can have unintended, potentially negative, consequences.
  5. The fifth, related, lesson is that it is vital to manage expectations associated with participation efforts. Where expectations are unrealistic, individuals who choose to engage may be left worse off than they might otherwise have been, which may leave them jaded and suspicious of future participation efforts.
  6. Finally, the research shows that, in spite of the increasing enthusiasm (rhetorically at least) for participation and the outstanding work that many community groups have done to improve development outcomes, there is nonetheless a strong need for formal planning processes that can support, empower and protect vulnerable groups. There is considerable risk in the current climate of heightened, but sometimes shallow, support for community participation that communities will be burdened with managing problems of a scale that are simply too immense for them to act on alone. Forced eviction and resettlement may be a case in point. While some communities may be able to effectively cope on their own with extreme challenges such as forced eviction and resettlement, many if not most others will require the support of planners and policymakers and a backdrop of enabling policies and transparent public administration.

Read this very interesting article at and share your experience about participatory work in India or other places!

Voice for the urban poor and their right to basic services – Patna

To raise a voice for the urban poor is a continuous process and PRIA is undertaking that process! A state level consultation was held in Patna, Bihar earlier this month with participants from civil society, government officials, formulated slum improvement committees and media professional. On 8 the December, the local paper – Jagran covered main points of this consultation. It encapsulated how PRIA professionals – Mr. Manoj Rai and Amitabh Bhushan highlighted the present status of pro-poor policies in the State of Bihar. In Bihar a slum a slum policy was developed last year but has not seen the light of the day in its implementation. At present the Centre is formulating a slum policy and has launched many flagship projects but still is unable to provide for basic services to the urban poor. More often than not these programmes and policies get limited only to paper. PRIA had undertaken a slum profiling earlier this year and shared that the State has declared 1849 slums in Bihar and by findings of PRIA 139 of those are in Patna city. It is important that elected representative, government officials realise the on ground realities of these slum settlements and actually visit the same or else the unfortunate scenario where the slum habitation precedes any infrastructure development shall continue in our cities that shall further reduce the quality of life that the citizens deserve. 


Knowledge versus Bulldozers! Voice against forced eviction!

The ignorance of the vulnerable has always been exploited by the powerful, urban poor in the city have always been in the clangs of the rich, the governance and the society at large. One such incident was seen in the slum community of Ketari (sugarcane) Mohalla of Ward No 21 in Patna.


On 24th November 2012, contractors from Gammon India Limited reached the neighbourhood of Ketari Mohalla and declared that the slum needs to be broken down since an Overhead water tank needs to be constructed in this slum as prescribed by the Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation under JNNURM.

Perturbed by this sudden news, the slum dwellers panicked and refused to be relocated. The contractor however came with a bulldozer at 2am on the 25th. Slum dwellers resolved to stand together and question the contractor about legality of this whole procedure.

Recently, Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and its partner DEEP in Patna has done great efforts in organising slum dwellers to take ownership of their own community and be informed about various applicable schemes and provisions for their neighbourhood. In October, a Slum Improvement Committee was also initiated in Ketari Mohalla that comprised 5 women and one male member. This slum improvement committee took responsibility for representing and keeping the residents of Ketwari Mohalla informed.

On 25th morning all the slum dwellers and the members of slum improvement committee demanded a legal notice that must have been issued by the municipal corporation for eviction of the slum dwellers to be produced. The community stood united and pledged to raise their voice against any injustice done to them.

The contractors had no such notice with them, since no such notice was ever issued! Whims of the contractor would have evicted the slum dwellers from their abode!  The community members rightly demanded that unless the correct papers are produced they shall not allow for any breakdown of their homes. The slum improvement committee highlighted how all government schemes such as Rajiv Awas Yojna, are now propagating in-situ development of the slum communities. Ketwari Mohalla was aptly equipped with knowledge and no bulldozer was strong in front of this power!

The contractors complained of financial loss of Rs 50,000 every day because of the slum dwellers but were not able to deter the community. The contract that the contractors later produced as issued to them in front of the slum dwellers only stated that a water tank needs to be constructed on the ‘land near PMC Sulab Souchalaya next to Kendriya Jal Ayog land in Adalatganj’. Nowhere in the contract was the need to evict the slum dwellers prescribed! The Slum Improvement (Vikas) Committee member – Sardari questioned the contractor and together all demanded that let the slum community inform the contractor on an apt location for the water tank such that it creates no harm for the dwellers and is also able to provide for the water facility for the slum dwellers and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Later, realising and admitting that the community is well informed about their own neighbourhood, Municipal Corporation representatives, representatives of Bihar Infrastructure Development Corporation and Gamman India Limited, signed a contract – first of its kind- with the slum dwellers. This contract stated that no harm whatsoever shall be done to the slum dwellers and their properties and the water tank shall be constructed on the empty land in the same mohalla.

Gamman India and Bihar Infrastructure Development Corporation was impressed by the level of awareness of the community members now being represented by the slum improvement committee. Infact for all other such projects they suggested that these slum improvement committee’s shall be a point of contact within slums such that with equal participation of all stakeholders correct decisions can be taken for any development or infrastructural projects.

This is one example of how voice of the community members has been strengthened with knowledge and awareness and is way towards participatory equity based development in our cities. PRIA’s motto that ‘Knowledge is Power’ triumphs high.





Village in the City – new slums? -China’s and India’s approach

By Nidhi Batra, PRIA

Urbanisation is a continuous process which involves expansion of the urban areas and also rural-urban migration. It is often assumed that the cause of urban poverty in Indian cities is the rural to urban migration. Instead as proved my many reports and studies, it is the growth of urban areas and engulfing of villages in the city boundaries – urbanising the villages that are more a reality in Indian situations.

These urban villages are not new to India. Most newly planned cities ignored these urban villages while planning for new cities. This can be seen right from the beginning in Delhi Master Plan 1962 where it did not have any clue on how to address urban villages that now lie in the boundary of the city. They just got left behind as ‘Lal Dora Areas’, hubs of no –regulation and close to slum situations. Gurgaon’s laissez faire development saw many of these urban villages being left as ugly eye sores with no addressal of growth and development of the existing villages. Naya Raipur plan of the city is no different, in the city limits are existing villages but wonder if there is an effective policy to regulate that these villages would not end up being the urban slums of this city. Raipur intense urbanisation over last few years has seen the boundary of municipal limit being revised again and again and villages on the outskirts now being officially ‘urban’. Though these villages maybe declared now part of the municipal limits, the City Development Plan was quick to term them as slums!

There is often a massive resistance to cling to the tag of rural areas, which attract a much larger share of welfare funds from the centre and escape higher taxation. This results in poor infrastructure development and administrative chaos, partly explaining why a large majority of urban poor continues to be concentrated in newly-developed small towns.

China’s Approach – Seal the village!

Recently I read about unfortunate policy that China has adopted for these urban villages – ‘ a sealed management’ policy for Chengzhongcun that are areas classified as rural villages which have been absorbed into China’s growing cities and are becoming thriving unregulated rental markets for rural migrants in the process (Ref: Shutting the poor by Constance Brehaut)


The main street of Laosanyu, where Beijing’s “sealed management” policy was first trialled during the Olympic Games in 2008, and remains in force. Photo: Constance Bréhaut

The formation of these villages-in-the-city is characteristic of the Chinese dual land tenure system which distinguishes between rural and urban land, and separates land use rights from land ownership: urban land is generally state-owned, while rural land is owned by the rural collective, and cannot be transferred, sold or leased for non-agricultural use. During the urbanisation process, local authorities could buy agricultural land, but the ownership of the village remained collective, and villagers could still dispose of their land use rights on their housing plots. The villages maintained their status as “rural” areas, as the government did not want to deal with the potential relocation and compensation cost of the villagers.

But this administrative status does not match the reality anymore. To compensate for the loss of their agricultural land, a major source of revenue, many villagers redevelop their housing at high densities, creating an informal rental market, which matches the needs of rural migrants in search of cheap housing opportunities close to work. As the majority of migrants cannot afford to rent private accommodation in the centre of Beijing, they have to rely on alternative housing opportunities. Often, urban villages are the only affordable option available.

The physical environment of the village is characterised by narrow roads, face-to-face buildings, streets packed with shops, grocery stores and service outlets. Highly dense and unregulated, they are considered by Chinese authorities and media as a source of social disorder and neglected urban planning.

This policy of “sealed management” (封闭管理 or fengbiguanli in Chinese) first appeared in Laosanyu during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Under the policy, selected chengzhongcun inhabited by migrant workers were fenced in and security stepped up: gates, walls, police boxes, 24-hour patrols and permits necessary for outsiders to enter the village. It is a pilot policy, first directed towards 16 urban villages in Daxing District in the spring of 2010, and then extended to other districts in Beijing. It has attracted much media attention, where it has been described as creating “gated communities for the poor”.

These measures, supporting the sealed management policy, are characteristic of the official will to eradicate any sign of informality and “neglected urban planning” in these villages. They also have a symbolic dimension: a clear sign to outsiders that they are entering a regulated, controlled and “protected” environment.

How does India treat its village in the city?

India does not stop its citizens from internal migration .People are free to move across states to escape destitution or in search of better opportunities, economic or otherwise. However, local governments and India’s middle class largely view economically poor migrants as outsiders making illegitimate claims to life in cities. Recently, scholars have started pointing out the growing hostility of urban governments, as well as middle class citizens, towards urban poor, especially migrants to the cities. The 2010 Common Wealth Games held in Delhi saw the forced eviction of large numbers of urban poor, mostly rural-urban migrants.(Ref:Urban migration and exclusion by Preeti Mann)

While most migrants would qualify as lawful citizens of the land, in urban India, the rights of citizens get operationalized through a host of official documents such as property lease or ownership papers, PAN cards, bank statements, bills, and voter IDs. Bereft of these, the paperless migrant accesses basic goods and services at a premium in the black market economy. Ironically, the most marginalized and poor also have to pay the most dearly. The underground economy is also indicative of the state’s absence in service delivery and lack of institutional support. From a migrant’s perspective it is the opportunity to enable a better life, economically or otherwise, that draws them to urban spaces. However, for a rural-urban migrant to move, there are additional costs that result from functioning in the informal economy. Opportunities cannot be readily undertaken if that means having to enable an entire environment that mostly depends on the back market economy and social networks.

Urban development, if done in an inclusive manner, can enable social mobility and integration of migrants in the real sense of the word by providing a renewed opportunity to challenge or change some of the traps or processes of impoverishment. This involves planning for services like access to safe housing, water, electricity, schools, and healthcare. Just as important, it requires a concerted effort by governments and civil society to identify and reduce structures and processes of exclusion in urban spaces. This, in turn, would be incumbent upon integrative planning, political will, and capability-enhancing policies that propagate access.

The Chinese policy of gated urban poor settlement is not a solution, but that does not ignore the fact that India needs a policy to address these transition areas. Prevention is still a possibility in small and medium towns which are undergoing fast pace urbanisation, while a cure needs to be recommended for the larger cities.


Dynamics of Participation!

By Nidhi Batra, PRIA

In an interesting research study by Jacob Perten on The Successes and Shortcomings of Participatory Slum-Upgrading In Villa 31, I learnt interesting dynamics of ‘Participatory practices in context to Urban Poverty’as shared below:

What is participation in Slum upgrading plans?

One of the primary lessons learned from past slum-upgrading efforts is that local participation is both necessary and valuable. Because there is no “one-size-fits all solution,” it is impossible to create and implement a successful urbanization plan with solely a top-down approach. Instead, “programs [also] have to be designed with a bottom-up approach in order to meet and prioritize the specific need of the slum dwellers.”

In the context of slum upgrading plans, participation is understood as a “process in which people, and especially disadvantaged people, influence resource allocation and the planning and implementation of policies and programs, and are involved at different levels and degrees of intensity in the identification, timing, planning, design, implementation, evaluation, and post implementation stage of development projects.”

According to a study by the School of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia, there are two primary ways in which the politics of participation are admitted in development planning. The first is the question of who participates. This recognizes that “‘the people’ are not homogenous, and that special mechanisms are needed to bring in relatively disadvantaged groups.” The second regards the level of participation. This points out that “the involvement of the local people in the implementation is not enough. For a fully participatory project, they should also take part in management and decision-making.”

Who Should Participate?

Effective development plans must address who and how many people should take part in a participatory strategy. Inviting everyone is difficult to manage, so from the beginning, it is necessary to devise a strategy that ensures fair representation.

The first step in creating an effective system of representation is learning about the community. It cannot be assumed that all slum dwellers have the same needs and interests, so therefore it is necessary to clearly identify specific groups and interests existing within the slum. This may require a systematic procedure, such as mapping.

Society for participatory Research in Asia for example under its project of Strengthening civil society voices on urban poverty, undertook the exercise of Slum Profiling in the cities of Raipur, Patna and Jaipur along with initial exercises of slum mapping.

When creating a system of representation, it is also important to remember the importance of involving members of vulnerable groups, such as women, the elderly and ethnic minorities. In respect to this PRIA is attempting to formulate neighbourhood groups or slum improvement committee aiming for atleast 50% female participation in the groups.

It is also advisable to work with existing community groups in the slum community, therefore PRIA during the time of slum profiling mapped the existing community groups in the slum community and they became the first points of contacts. Some of these groups were religious groups, or social upgradation groups, or some ad hoc groups formed to get a government facility etc. Furthermore, the representation framework must encourage the active participation of all stakeholders.

For example, in larger communities with many representatives, quieter representatives often do not have the opportunity to voice their opinions. It may be necessary to create smaller working groups according to topics or areas of interest to solve this problem. No matter what system is used, the most important requirement is that the representation is, in fact, representative.

Ideal Levels of Participation

Hamdi and Goethert have identified five different levels of participation that can be applied to slum-upgrading projects:

None: In the no-participation approach, the technical team is responsible for all aspects of the urbanization plan. This strategy is used principally when urgent action is needed, or when circumstances demand a high level of technical know-how. This approach is high-risk, as the project may not fit the needs of the community.

Indirect: In the indirect approach, the technical team needs information about the community to create and implement the development plan. However, instead of gathering this information through direct interaction with slum residents, it uses secondary sources, such as reports and censuses. The indirect method relies heavily on the availability of sufficient data and skill in data analysis, so absence of either of these factors is problematic.

Consultative: In the consultative approach, instead of turning to secondary sources, the technical team turns to the community for information. However, the community acts as a “consultant” rather than a decision-maker – all decisions are ultimately made by the technical team. Consultative participation is useful in getting a general sense of how the community feels about an issue, but less effective if looking for ideas from the community.

Shared Control: At the shared control level, the community and technical team act as equals. Each acts on the premise that the other has something valuable to contribute, and they work together as partners to generate creative solutions. This level reflects the ideal of participatory planning theory.

Full Control: In this level, the community dominates the urbanization process, and the technical team offers support where needed. This signifies the complete empowerment of the community.

 It is important to note that levels of participation are not static during the course of an urbanization plan; rather, they are dynamic over time. Hamdi and Goethert have identified the “most efficient levels” of participation in regards to the five standard slum-upgrading stages described by the Community Action Planning model:

• Initiation Stage: In this stage, consultative, shared control, or full control levels can be used. Community involvement is critical in this stage, because the project should originate out of community need. The technical team should not have preconceived notions about solutions to the community’s problems during this period, because this undermines the participatory process in subsequent stages.

Planning Stage: Community involvement in the planning stage is most crucial. This is the stage in which key decisions are made and the project is defined. Shared control, therefore, is the level that should be used in this stage.

Design Stage: Community input is less crucial in the design stage, so recommended levels of participation are indirect, consultative, or shared control. If decisions are clear during the planning stage, then the design stage is only required to develop technical details of the project.

Implementation Stage: During the implementation stage, participation can vary through all levels. In some cases, implementation is better carried out by the technical team, consultants, or city authorities, while in others; the community is capable of leading. If possible, community members should be hired for construction projects as a means of generating employment within the community.

Maintenance Stage: Both the city and the community should be involved in the maintenance of a slum-upgrading project. Oftentimes, day-to-day maintenance is the role of community members, whereas major repairs that require resources and technical skills are the job of outside teams. However, if maintenance is to be successful, there must be an agreement in place before project implementation that designates tasks according to respective capacities.

Picture below: PRIA and CHETNA in dialogue with community towards facilitating formation of slum improvement commitee