Tag Archives: BJP

Yeh mera shaher , ya ‘unka’ shaher – the new urban India

By Nidhi Batra

Modi Sarkar is here. It is set to transform ‘urban India’. 100 smart cities, massive infrastructure, boast to real estate, affordable housing through developers, integrated technology and clean Ganga are few of its aims.

On paper, these visions seem all glossy and attractive, however my concern lies in the fact that how much of the ground reality to these top down proclaims really incorporate. Just after the announcement of victory from Varanasi – came the declaration that 60 flyover shall be built in the city. What backed that decision? Was an integrated transport study ever conducted? Are flyovers really a solution to solve traffic woes? Haven’t we still learnt from various other cities across the globe? Developed nations are busy tearing off their flyovers and India shall build 60 flyovers in just one city! Thoughts like these scare me – urban India is set for transformation but are the citizens directing that transformation?!

And then comes the idea of 100 new smart cities, like Dholera in Gujarat – bigger than even ‘Shanghai’. But then do we really want Shanghais in India?! Are Greenfield developments a solution for India? The concept of smart city is welcoming, sustainability is welcomed, transit oriented development is welcomed. But are we taking far too quick and impulsive decisions to make 100 new cities – without assessing the existing potential of these sites to carry these new cities. As highlighted by Ayona Datta in her recent article India’s smart city craze: big, green and doomed from the start?  , Dholera doesn’t have a ‘water source’ to hold the population it is envisioned to host. Twice the size of Mumbai, the ‘smart city’ of Dholera the critics say will be built in a flood zone and will dispossess farmers. And to make Dholera happen; a new Special Investment Region (SIR) Act was passed in March 2009. The act gives more power to the state to acquire land bypassing mandatory requirements of consent and compensation of the land acquisition act. Locals of course are revolting, but their plea reaches only deaf ears.

BJP manifesto also promotes the idea of twin and satellite cities. But what about all the small and medium towns, which are really the hub of urbanisation? Migration is rapid in these cities and the rate at which they urbanise is much more than the first class cities. Instead of focusing on new cities shouldn’t the attention be now given to these small and medium towns and equipping them in infrastructure, facility, services and governance to be the new urban centres? BJP has already made plans to scrap flagship program of JnNURM in light of developing ‘new cities’ and directing all investment towards them. According to our newly appointed Urban Development and Urban poverty alleviation minister, Venkaiah Naidu ; “if we want moderately livable cities, we need new cities, not old ones with crumbling infrastructure and sprawling slums where land costs are simply unviable (Mumbai, for example, is simply unaffordable even to the upper middle-classes). The additional 300 million people who will head for cities over the next 20 years can either cram the Mumbais and Delhis and Bhopals of the world, or be diverted to new, planned cities with better amenities – like Lavasa in Maharashtra, which got into a controversy over legal issues, or Dholera in Gujarat. Assuming one million to be a good size for viable new cities, we need 300 new cities over 20 years. This means we need 15 new Lavasas with one million capacity every year.” Did the new minister forget that Lavasa has not even included a ‘space’ for the poor and the fact that it breaks many environmental norms.

The next comes the idea of affordable housing through help of developers. India needs about 19 million low-cost homes—roughly defined as costing a million rupees ($16,700) and below—to shelter an urban population expected to nearly double to 600 million by 2030 from 2011. The strategy to be adopted is to make land more easily available to developers, and to provide them with incentives to build cheaper homes. Mumbai and Gujarat have already toyed with this strategy. Mumbai is overhauling its slum redevelopment authority (SRA) projects due to its failure, Gujarat is building on. To entice developers into low income housing can be a solution provided the rights of the poor are given and not compromised.

Modi sarkar is full of ideas. Do you and I have a say in those? I think more than ever, we should start voicing our concerns and hopes. Now is the urgency for civil society to collectivise and shape the tomorrow of urban India. And more than ever, now, is the time the government should value our opinion and learnings. Modi sarkar which has huge online presence, may be should immediately come out with its portal for community participation on ‘urban issues’.  The future of urban India should be carved out through a participatory process. Sarkar should listen to what the planners, designers and citizens (and not just those with lots of bucks) have to say for the urban India. Let’s not have top down decisions such as that of 60 flyovers woe away the urban citizens from what really is of importance. Let’s hope, ache din are coming – for all – built by us all, together!

Addressing Urban Poverty and Reformed Urban Governance


Addressing Urban Poverty and Reformed Urban Governance

National Campaign

Speaker Hall, Constitution Club of India

28 March 2014

The event Urban Poverty and Reformed Urban Governance was jointly organised by PRIA (Participatory Research in Asia) and FIUPW (Forum for Informal Urban Workers). The objective of the National Consultation is to bring together different stakeholders from the local to the national level, who play a crucial role in the governance and management of cities as well as those who are engaged on issues of urban governance, especially urban poor. It is an effort to bring together organizations of the urban poor, local NGOs, research institutions, media and other coalitions in creating a buzz in Lok Sabha 2014 elections on the issues of urban poverty.

The participants included the following:

There were about 120 participants who included people from media, CSOs and representatives of informal slum dwellers. The CSOs which participated were PRASAR, Delhi Forces, JJEM, B.V.S, Janpahal, Jivan Sudha Samiti, Samanata, RUPOEM, Matri Sudha, Hawkers Joint Action Committee, Pahel, Delhi Hawkers, Madhyanan, AIKMM etc.

The discussion was moderated by Mr Manoj Rai, Director, PRIA

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The panelists were:

Surendra Singh, Child Rights/Matri Sudha

He spoke on the issues of children of urban poor and the need to improve the condition of Anganwadis was raised. In Delhi, 70% urban poor women are employed and hence Anganwadis have an important role in their lives. While there are many benefits with respect to children of urban poor like ICDS, Right to Education etc, in spite of these schemes 42% of children in India are malnourished. For these services to reach urban poor to “Pehchan Patra” (identity cards) should be issued for them.

Jawahar Singh, Jhuggi Jhopdi Ekta Manch

Jawaharji spoke about the problems of housing schemes for urban poor such as RAY. He quoted that 70,00,000 people of urban poor donot have any home in Delhi. He highlighted the issue of Kathputli colony which was evicted by Ajay Makan and sold to private builder for 6 crore. The slums are promised 4 storeyed homes in faraway places which separate them from their livelihood. Slums are evicted randomly without efforts of renovation or proper planning. Eviction of slums was not a goal of RAY. He also felt that the Congress manifesto includes an exhaustive list of unrealistic targets. He stressed that the issues must include, Roti, Kapda, Makan, Swasthya and Shiksha.

Mr Dharmendra Kumar, Janpahal

Dharmendraji state the Informal Urban Poor Workers should be formalised in every way. Only when every informal is made formal will he have access to voter id, aadhar cards, bank account etc. In urban a different type of poverty prevails. Here every poor urban home has a TV, a fridge, a bicycle, electric fan but it does not mean they are not poor. Here poverty is in terms of identity cards, access to proper education, sanitation and health services. The definition of urban poverty is changing with time. He also suggested that monitoring of manifestos of political parties should happen in parallel.

Rajendra Pratap Gupta, Manifesto Committee, BJP

Rajendra Guptaji said that  BJP manifesto provides specific solution to these problems. Employment has to be created. The main reason for urban poverty to grow is because there is no livelihood. Aim is to increase manufacturing sector to increase employment opportunities. Tourism is a very important source for India which will be ventured. Every scheme proposed by BJP will go through Social, Economic and Environment audit. India requires 1,80,00,000 homes all over country. This is a very big challenge which cannot be addressed in short span of 5 years but it is a vision.

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Ashok Thakur, Cooperatives, BJP

Ashok ji said that Construction people stay in Jhuggi Jhopri only. Only when the manpower from these JJ is trained and investment is made in their development then their situations will become better.

In the last session there was open discussion, where the community people participation actively.

The main aim of this consultation was to voice the issues of urban poor. The issues were directly raised by the community people residing in various slums of Delhi. Their issues gained voice through the event and the political parties paid attention to their issues in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

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Participation by informal urban poor at its best

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