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:
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
2. What should be their roles and how can it help in institutionalizing relationship of poor and non-poor for developing an inclusive cities?