“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.
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.