By Eric Kasper,IDS and Deepika Pandey, PRIA
Stesalit, a professional agency from Kolkata, has been hired by Raipur Municipal Corporation (RMC) to survey all the slums in Raipur as part of the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). In 2006 RMC prepared a list of all 282 known slums in the city. Since that time, in part because of housing schemes such as BSUP, some of the slums have shifted. By the early stages of RAY implementation, RMC could identify only 240 of the originally listed slums, and Stesalit has been instructed to survey each of these.
PRIA has been working in Raipur on urban issues for many years. In February, 2012, PRIA took an initiative to list all the slums of the city and found 299 of them. PRIA also found only 233 of the original 282 slums, but they also found an additional 66. What will become of these additional slums not counted in the RMC’s updated list?
Out of all the slums in Raipur, PRIA selected 10 slums for intervention, in order to organize the slum dwellers to effectively interact with the RMC and to demand proper facilities and basic services. Because Raipur is one of the four Chhattisgarh cities selected for RAY, this initiative of PRIA has also attempted to prepare the slum dwellers to participate in the implementation of RAY from the beginning. In Raipur, the Stesalit survey has already begun. They have surveyed all of the 240 slums. After the survey, they will be carrying out “microplanning” in each slum in which Stesalit will decide priorities for housing design and service needs with a group designated to represent the residents of a given slum.
PRIA has facilitated the process of forming Slum Improvement Committees in 7 slums out of the 10 slums originally chosen for intervention. Of these 7 slums, there are 2 slums – Chandrashekhar Nagar and Indira Bhata Kushta Basti – where the survey has not yet been carried out. So PRIA encouraged one of these, Chandrashekhar Nagar, to use the GPS to do a survey of their own. They have already accomplished this. To share this initiative and to know why these slums were left out by Stesalit, PRIA made a visit to Stesalit’s office. They shared the story of organizing in the 7 slums along with the initiative taken by Chandrashekhar Nagar and asked about the reason for leaving these two slums out.
These slums were not on the official list. They showed interest in learning more about the unlisted slums. In this discussion, they agreed to use the SICs as the main points of contact in those slums. We agreed to visit the slums together so that PRIA and Stesalit could collaborate on the microplanning process.
Stesalit and PRIA planned to meet on 5 March to start microplanning in any one of the 7 slums. Indira Bhata Kushta Basti was decided as the venue. Moumita (The representative of Stesalit) began a meeting and the SIC members and other residents gathered around. She explained that Stesalit has been contracted to carry out surveys and planning processes in all the slums of the city, and that they would like to do these things in their slum. The residents had many questions and concerns regarding how the process would work, including whether or not they would be forced to move from their land, which was not RMC land but Railway land. PRIA and Stesalit answered most of their questions, but there were some issues that neither group had the authority to answer. The decision about whether the slums will be able to stay in their current location must be resolved through negotiations with both the RMC and the Railway department.
During the discussion, it was realized that Stesalit had completed the survey for only one section of Indira Bhata Kushta Basti. The residents of this rather large slum consider themselves to be two separate entities. Only one of these has been surveyed, but not the area with an SIC. So it was decided that Stesalit would begin with the microplanning in the section already surveyed but delay microplanning with the SIC until a survey could be completed. They realized that they had missed this section in the previous survey, and the oversight was discovered as a result of this collaboration between PRIA, Stesalit and the SICs. Furthermore, Stesalit realized that since neither the second section of Indira Bhata nor the slum in Chandrashekhar Nagar were on the official list, they do not have authorization to include them as part of the RAY survey and planning process. They are now seeking approval to include them as “newly discovered” slums, even though these areas were highlighted on maps in Stesalit’s own office and have been known to PRIA for more than two years.
So in this situation, the community, organized in such a way to effectively interact with the implementers of RAY; the NGO working with the community; and the contracting agency responsible for carrying out the planning are all working together. This is how RAY was supposed to work, according to the policy guidance. However, where is the RMC? They are ultimately responsible for implementing this policy. It has been expedient for them to outsource some of the technical work, but some issues cannot be resolved by contractors. The negotiations over land rights and the inclusion of overlooked slums are important examples. How can the RMC meet its obligations regarding these issues? Should there not also be a representative of the RMC at these microplanning meetings?