Tag Archives: Bilaspur

Unclear Responsibilities for RAY Implementation Put Bilaspur Slum-Dwellers in a Difficult Position

By Eric Kasper and Deepika Pandey

As noted in previous blog posts Slum Dwellers Disenchanted With Government Schemes , One Step at a time, and Information gap and disillusion as barriers , PRIA is working with other grassroots NGOs to help organize slum dwellers in 2 cities of Chhattisgarh – Bilaspur and Raipur – along with Patna and Jaipur. We chose to organize in these communities because these cities will be implementing the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), a scheme for creating slum-free cities. Building community capacities for meaningful participation in RAY is one of the main short-term goals for our organizing efforts.

Among the myriad possible challenges in implementing this scheme, one that has become a pressing concern in Bilaspur is coordination and clarification of responsibilities among different governing bodies. Many of the Bilaspur slums are hoping to participate in RAY, which will be implemented by Bilaspur Municipal Corporation but they live on land belonging to the Railway Department.

Since the slums reside on land owned by a central government department, it’s not clear if responsibility for their rehabilitation lies with the Railway Department or the Bilaspur Municipal Corporation. The BMC does not have clear authority to make decisions about what happens to the railway slums, but the Railway Department has no clear obligations under RAY to deal with the slums either.

The wording of the RAY guidance is vague. Landowning ministries are encouraged to “explore” options for innovative “pilot programmes.” This lack of clarity about the responsibilities of Central Government Departments and Ministries was addressed in a press release from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) on 19 December.

We are told that a meeting was held with State Ministers in charge of Housing to discuss issues like this one and that this issue was “taken up in the meeting of Committee of Secretaries having representation of various land-owning Ministries such as Railways, Forest, Civil Aviation, Defence etc.” Several other meetings have also been held, but we are not told about any conclusions that may have been reached.

We are simply told that the “Central Government Ministries and Departments have been requested to take up slum survey and other preparatory activities and prepare pilot projects for seeking Central assistance support under the current phase of Rajiv Awas Yojana.” It’s not clear whether this request will be enforced. Nor is it clear whether, in case a department feels no particular motivation to participate in this project or has no innovative ideas for how it might be successfully carried out, sound courses of action might be suggested.

In Bilaspur, the slum-dwellers occupying Railway Department land are willing to be relocated. But the Railway Department has shown little willingness to negotiate about their compensation. The process of carrying out a survey, finding land for relocations, negotiating the lease rights or property rights to the new land (would it be other Railway land or would BMC be responsible for providing land?), working with private-sector contractors to design new housing with community participation, and arranging for access to basic services would require years of effort. The incentive seems to be to get rid of the slum dwellers before the Department is required to deal with them under RAY. How can the other parties with interests in effectively working toward a slum-free Bilaspur tip the balance away from eviction?

For their part, the slum dwellers are doing all they can. At the Slum Improvement Committee orientation organized by PRIA and SYM, the slum-dwellers pressed for answers from government representatives. They urged their elected leaders to advocate for their interests, and they held rallies to draw public attention to the issue.

As reported in the clippings below, they have even given a memorandum to the Collector of Raipur District Thakur Ram Singh, Railway General Manager Arunendra Kumar, and DRM K.C. Trivedi requesting not to be evicted before participating in the Rajiv Awas Yojana and threatening a fast and self-immolation if made homeless. Nevertheless, they are still in dire straits, with eviction without compensation an imminent threat. How could this situation have been avoided? How should the RAY policy be clarified to address these kinds of situations?




Power of Unity and Collectivisation- towards Urban Poverty Alleviation

It is easier to break one stick but difficult to break a tied bundle. This has been the eternal lesson of unity that we have learned over and over again. Unity plays a major role in urban poverty alleviation and the efforts of PRIA and its partner Chetna in the slums of Chhattisgarh is exhibiting exactly the same – The power and advantage of Sanghāta.

PRIA has initiated organisation of Slum Improvement Committees (SIC) in 7 slums of Raipur and 9 slums of Bilaspur, wherein representatives from the community become a contact point of knowledge building, awareness and dissemination to the whole community.

In standard Sanskrit, sanghāta is a term meaning the ‘fitting and joining of timbers’ or ‘the work done by a carpenter in joining two pieces of wood,’ and can refer to carpentry in general. It has a specialized use in a few Buddhist Sanskrit texts, where it means ‘vessel’ or ‘jar,’ and this image of ‘something that contains’ is evoked several times within the sutra, when Buddha calls the Sanghāta a ‘treasury of Dharma.’

Whether we take sanghāta as having the sense of joining or connecting that it has in standard Sanskrit, or the sense of holding or containing that it can have in Buddhist Sanskrit, the question remains as to just what is connected or held.

One possible interpretation is that what ‘is’ connected are sentient beings, and they are joined or connected by the Sanghāta to enlightenment.

This idea of being connected and a collective to move towards a larger good is translated even in the SIC and the larger aim of moving towards a socially inclusive urban city. As seen from a recent event wherein the SIC of Indrabhata Kushta basti organised a slum level meeting and invited the SIC members of other slums such as Kashiram Nagar, Chandrashekhar Nagar and  Durga Nagar. The Slum Level Meeting was an opportunity for all slum dwellers to discuss the pressing issues in each of their slums and advise each other from better practices as seen in some other locale.

They discussed about how to participate in the survey of Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY) on-going in Raipur city and being undertaken by the professional agency hired by Raipur Municipal Corporation (RMC). In the process of slum survey, according to RAY policies and guidelines community participation in the process of survey is a must. The SIC members of Kashiram Nagar shared their experiences of the survey conducted in their slum by the professional agency wherein the agency while conducting the survey did not even communicate with the slum dwellers that for what purpose was the survey being conducted. SIC members however a dialogue had with the surveyors and cautioned them to involve the slum dwellers in the entire process. SIC members were able to convey this message to the surveyors because of the prior knowledge of RAY and its mandatory process and guidelines.

The participants also discussed various other applicable central and state schemes. For instance Mr.Bhagwan Das Yadav (SIC member of Durga Nagar) informed the participants about the scheme of “Shramik Card” which is an initiative of Labour department of Chhattisgarh State that under the banner of Chhattisgarh Bhawan Nirman Avam Anya  Karmakar Mandal. He informed that under this initiative any labour can get the card by submitting 3 photographs and birth certificate/Residence Certificate/ Marksheet with date of Birth in the Labor office.All those labor who have this card will be eligible to get the benefit of the scheme such as availing bye cycle and stitching Machine to the women labour, availing support sum  of 7000/- rupees to the pregnant women and 3000/- thousand rupees to the husband of that lady, scholarship of 500-1500 Rupees to their children and 2000-5000 rupees to the intelligent children, compensation of 40,000-50,000 rupees in case of any accidental death and upcoming scheme for pension in which the worker have to contribute 100/-rupees every month and another 100/- will be contributed by state government and another 100/- will be contributed by the board and this money will be deposited in the account in the name of the worker which will be opened free of cost in the bank and then after the age of 60 years he will be provided by the amount with the addition of appropriate interest in it.

The movement is on! It’s the power of collectivization and knowledge that is the key towards any form of empowerment!