Tag Archives: Bhopal

The drive to empower urban poor through community led mapping

PRIA along with its partners has been working across the country to ‘Strengthen voices of civil society on urban poverty issues’. This process is facilitated by a community led mapping of urban poor settlements by the resident community itself. The aim is to empower the community with self knowledge and a platform for negotiation with the service providers. Once the community has an authentic set of data, that is even available in the public domain, the community holds the power to communicate, demand and obtain its ‘rights’ from the government.

With help of local NGOs and Settlement Improvement Committee that have been formulated in each ‘intervening’ urban poor settlement, PRIA has equipped with community with a GPS instrument, given the necessary training to operate the instrument and given regular hand holding to the community for the survey.

In Bhopal, GPS mapping has been done in five slums of Deeksha Nagar, Gautam Nagar, Om Nagar, Sanjay Nagar and Shri Ram Nagar in 2013 with assistance of local State NGO – Samarthan, Bhopal. The survey carried out beyond physically locating each slum and its physical characteristics, identifies household information including the status of water and sanitation, displacement and education in these slums. In this activity youth volunteers were identified from each slum and trained on using the GPS instrument. Then with the help of expert each household in the slum was depicted on google earth map. These maps were also shared with ward councilor and municipal community organizers, so that in future if they plan some infrastructure in these slums they may understand the situation of existing resources available in slum and their distribution in each lane of slum. The youth members that participated in mapping process are engaged in other community development work too as volunteers and in future they may take up other initiative of development in their slum also.

A similar exercise has been carried out in Bhojpura basti in Jaipur. The map can be accessed at : https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=206436946251815631253.0004f72622b8ebd7b01cb&msa=0&ll=26.897159,75.792537&spn=0.001457,0.002642

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Civil Society Consultation at Bhopal: How to do an effective advocacy on Urban Poverty Issues

On 4th February PRIA and Samarthan initiated a dialogue on how to really achieve effective advocacy around urban poverty issues, through strengthening the civil society. The consultation was held at Bhopal. The consultations saw the presence of civil society members, ngos and cso including ction- Aid, Water Aid,  UN Habitat,PRIA, GHK, VJSS Indore, Population Foundation of India and Clinton foundation. The discussion revolved around ‘how civil society can be a bridge between the community members and the government’

There is always a concern as to how to make a dominant government work on issues of deprived and poor. These concerns grow up when government is cemented with strong bureaucratic structures and weaker community interface. Civil society, taking initiatives to strengthen community’s interface with the government and make it consider their problems and issues, grapples with the problem of ‘making government listen’ which could later lead to ‘making government work’. In the plethora of issues of urban poor, consolidating and strengthening the voice of civil society is a major objective of national and international organizations working for the betterment of the urban poor and to ensure inclusive governance. There is a need to strengthen informal networks, initiatives and social movements and turn into a structured effort of policy advocacy. The proposed Community of Practice (CoP)/ ‘working together on urban poverty’ consultation at Bhopal  discussed advocacy experiences of various prominent organizations on urban poverty issues in MP and explored possibilities of a shared and effective platform/forum in order to engage with the government.

Goals of the Meeting:

(1)To identify effective channels and process of advocacy

(2) To explore a common platform where a collaboration effort of advocacy on urban poverty can be taken.

(3) To finalize an action plan for the future to work collectively on urban poverty issue

Meeting started with an overview provided by Dr Yogesh Kumar, Executive Director, Samarthan, on the urban scenario in MP, major issues involved with the urbanization and scope of civil society organizations to intervene in collaborative manner. He also spelled out the objective of this meeting and need for a collaborative effort to place organized energy for the cause of urban poverty. A presentation was made on the issues and prospects of advocacy on urban poverty issues. Presentation discussed three major issues i.e. Advocacy by smaller civil society group; Advocacy on small towns; Advocacy in small towns,  that are pertaining to urban advocacy.

After presentation four major issues were placed for discussion:

  • Efficiency versus delivery capacities of local urban administration: There are lowest scores in various services in small towns recorded through various report cards that Samarthan and other organizations have brought at times. Delivery mechanism is not able to deliver services with most efficiency.
  • Exclusive nature of urban planning: Urban planning remains exclusionary in nature and do not accommodate common people. It is still being done by consultants or departments, not by local people.
  • Lack of conversance among various departments and resource to implement components of urban planning.
  • Low ability of elected representatives in engaging with the development process in the towns. Parshads (councilors)  do not know how to utilize the money and their individual grants.

Mr. Narendra Sharma from Action Aid emphasized that on the name of efficiency and transparency, most of the basic services are being privatized based on PPP model and becomes responsibility of private actors. He mentioned a study on water by Manthan to support his argument. Surendra Khadge from VJSS, Indore shared his experience from Indore that in the name of development and rehabilitation, 7000 people have been shifted away from city where they do not have access to basic facilities and they also lost their means of livelihood. In some places, rehabilitated families are forced to make their shift at 20 km away from the city. He also made a point on increasing urban slums in Indore from 599 in 2006 to around 800 in 2011.

Dr Pradeep Nandy from UN Habitat emphasized on the use of information and validation data to be used in advocacy. He stressed upon a point that whenever we use data for the said purpose, they should be validated by concerned authorities and also compared and consulted with previous studies.  Mr Sur from population Foundation of India shared that advocacy efforts with government authorities have not been very successful. So, he stressed upon the need that we should seek some alternative methods of effective advocacy. Binu Arickal from water Aid raised suggested that PPP should be used to ensure rights of the people. Jeetesh Rai from PRIA suggested to include violence against women in the agenda of urban poverty of the CSOs. Shyam Singh from Samarthan advised to include elected political leaders in the advocacy efforts. Dr Rose from Clinton Foundation also endorsed this point.

Dr Yogesh Kumar made point that Ashray Nidhi was way to get away from the system of rehabilitation of people. Nobody is representing the interest of economically weaker people. We need to look at Bread earner especially women, who have not been given priorities in planning. Poor may be willing to pay if they are provided better services. But indirectly, they are paying much. He also said that citizen collectives can play important roles in bringing changes. He emphasized on the need of building capacities of urban administration and elected representatives.

Way Forward:

Dr Yogesh Kumar suggested that we can put our programs together for our learning that organizations are gathering through their own interventions. Organizations can link with inter-connected issues. By using experiences from each of us and identifying the issues, CSOs can engage with the government collaboratively.  Some time administration also needs our support to strengthen good initiatives. He suggested all partner organizations to meet for 2-3 hours once in one or two months and share their experiences.

Narendra Sharma suggested we should bring more partners to these meetings.  We should discuss issues like earmarking of land to urban poor, security issues, planning and audit issues with priority. Binu Arickal said that we need to have regular dialogue through meetings. We also need to build civil society’s capacities. Meeting should be held every month.

Decisions taken:

  1. Meeting or partners on the first Saturday of every month.
  2. Meeting should be organized by partnering organizations in turn basis.
  3. 2nd meeting to be held at Samarthan premises on march 2nd.

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“Poor Living” for the Urban Poor- tracing JNNURM housing projects

“Poor Living” for the Urban Poor- tracing JNNURM housing projects

Government promised in its JNNURM scheme that poor people would be provided with basic services (through Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG) and Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP))- how successful has this scheme been in catering to the urban poor is the real question, especially at a time when another centrally sponsored scheme of Rajiv Awas Yojana has been initiated in most States and Cities.

Jeetesh Rai of PRIA, began to find the success quotient of JNNURM with following questions:

  • What has been the impact of JnNURM policies on the livelihood and identity of urban poor (here identity means there PATTA, ration card and other facilities including employment opportunities which they were availing before this)
  • What has been the response of the state on this?
  • How and in what manner their housing, Water, sanitation, health and education has been affected so far in this displacement and rehabilitation process and after that?
  • What was the situation of slum dwellers before there displacement and what is the situation of slum dwellers after that?
  • Is state able to provide the basic services under its stated objectives of JNNURM i.e. house, water, sanitation, health, education?
  • What are the opinions of people for whom this project has been implemented?
  • Are they really included in this urban planning process as stated in the objectives of JNNURM?
  • What process have State adopted to displace these poor slums dwellers, was that participatory?

Through case example of Banjara Basti, Kotara Sultanabad, Bhopal, some answers to the above questions are highlighted

The Banjara basti is situated in Kotara Sultanabad, near Nehru Nagar, where the slum dwellers of Babu Nagar, Shabari Nagar and Banjara Basti have been relocated/rehabilitate between 2009 and 2011. The people of Sabari Nagar and Banjara basti who had been living here have been rehabilitate into multi-storeyed flats at the same place, and are joined by the displaced slum dwellers of  Babu nagar which was 3 km away. In Babu Nagar the slum dwellers were residing since last 25 years and had Patta, ration card, Identity card, and some of them had employment card. Slum dwellers of Babu Nagar prior to displacement also availed nearby facilities of government middle school, angan wadi, hospital about 8km away and ration facility about 0.5km away from their place of stay.

Process of displacement:

As informed, the resettled slum dwellers of Babu Nagar Basti had not shifted on their own will, rather were displaced forcefully. They were threatened by the Bhopal Municiapl Corporation and the slum dwellers were forced to move. The dwellers were promised to be provided flats in Banjara Basti in multi-storeyed flats for which they had to pay atleast Rs 32,000. Residents of Babu Nagar basti and the Sabari Nagar Basti who were given temporary housing in this location were promised to get school, parks, roads, clean drinking water, SWM facility, Marriage-Community hall, angandwadi etc.

Unfortunately, only those slum dwellers which enjoyed a tenure right- patta were offered housing in the JNNURM project, resulting in only 400 families of Babu Nagar to be rehabilitated against the total of 600 families in that location. While in Sabari Nagar, where about 40 houses were demolished, only 10-15 were offered house in the multi-storeyed flat, even though none of the 40 houses had any patta.

Pity of the situation is that none of the slum dwellers have any receipt or official communication records between them and the BMC. They informed that during the house distribution, administration authorities have taken the requisite patta record, ration card, bank passbook, voter identity card and stamp paper but never provided any kind of receipt. People told that they had been given a stamp paper, however have not been provided with the promised housing facilities.

In another highlighted case, in similar scheme at  Jamburi maidan, and people were provided with the housing allotment letters but the families who were not present in the ground have not given any kind of paper or houses.

Condition of the JNNURM housing at Banjara Basti:

Slum dwellers of Sabari nagar, Babu nagar and Banjara nagar basti have been rehabilitated in 16 blocks with 32 houses in each in a plot at Banjara Nagar. As informed by the present residents, the condition of these flats during the time of shifting in 2011 was highly poor. Also the slum dwellers were offered no financial help or subsidy which made it highly difficult for them to relocate into these flats. Residents of Sabari nagar informed that they had been provided with two meals only on the day of displacement and thereafter no help was offered to the slum dwellers.

  • Size of each dwelling: 27.67 square meter
  • Number of Units: 512, in 16 towers with 32 houses in each
  • Promised layout: housing plan which was shown to the slum dwellers had a two room set with separate kitchen and latrine/bathroom
  • Provided layout: only one room, one multipurpose hall-cum kitchen and only one toilet and one latrine
  • Construction quality: Very poor, water percolation is already seen; settling of lower ground is seen already. Houses are still incomplete with some of the houses not even provided with window glass as of now. Quality of material used for construction is poor as reported by the slum dwellers.
  • Sewage and drainage: No sewage facility has been planned according to slum dwellers, no covered drains, often the sewage water comes back in to the houses.
  • Water Supply: Overhead tanks with no provision of access to the same or no components of maintenance of the same. As a result people often climb up to the terrace with a ladder and has resulted in mishaps and accidents. Also the connection has only been provided in the bathroom and not in the kitchen. As a result most houses through pipes are taking water directly from the overhead tanks. Each house had paid Rs 150 for the water connection with a monthly charge of Rs. 60.
  • Electricity: Supply has been provided with a charge of Rs 550 of which no official receipt has been provided
  • School: primary school is 5 km away, middle school is 10 km away and high school for boys is 2 km but for girl’s high school is 10 km from away
  • Hospital: nearest hospital Government Katzu hospital 7 km away
  • Employment: Babu Nagar residents complained of increased expense due to additional travel required for going to their work places

The residents also expressed the need for the following:

  • Single story houses
  • The quality of material should be better than that had been used in their house construction
  • The size of houses should be bigger than what has been given to them right now, such that at least one whole family can live in one house.
  • There should be  supply of water in the kitchen too
  • Senior citizens should be allotted houses on the ground floor
  • The contribution towards the cost of the house should be fixed prior and any increased cost due to inflation or any other reason,  should be borne by the government itself.
  • In the new housing area, the facility of Anganwadi, school and administration and other basic facilities should be provided.

Way forward:

There are various lessons to learn from this rehabilitation project. One of which is the need of a transparent and participatory urban planning and development process. The slum dwellers should be involved from the time of design, to construction and implementation and as well as maintenance. At one hand the State has lagged behind in the quality of houses that have been provided, the process adopted for rehabilitation and at the same time slum dwellers take no ownership of the houses that have been allotted to them.