Tag Archives: Patna

Towards ‘Inclusive cities’ with poor and non-poor- Bihar

A city needs to be developed at social, economic and aesthetic levels. Ideally in a developed city the poor,non-poor and government should work in tandem. However, in India, poor are left out in the planning process, the non-poor do not act and government is shackled in its own bureaucratic structure.

To address this felt problem and need as expressed by the poor and non-poor a multi-stakeholder dialogue was organized by PRIA Bihar on 15th September 2014 in SBC Hall, Patna. The objectives of the consultation were:
1. To sensitize the people on common problems faced by urban poor, non-poor and government,
2. To provide a platform for interface and dialogue between the poor, non-poor and government

The consultation saw enthusiastic participation from various stakeholders such as Mr. Samrat Choudhary, Ms. Pinki Kumari, Ward 21, Counsellor, Minster for Urban Development, Govt. of Bihar, Amrita Bhushan, President Patna Favorite Lion’s Club, Govind Kumar Bansal, BJP former Chairperson, Jhuggi Jhopari Manch, Dr. C. P Tahkur, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Gazaffar Nawab, Member, AITUC Patna, Mr. Johagar, Mr. Ranjan Sinha, Chief Functionary, Nidan, Mr. Nikhal Ranjan, WASH, Mr. Vishwa Ranjan, PPP Expert, Plan India, the community members and PRIA and its partner NGO.

Mr. Choudhary and Ms. Pinki, representing the service providers of the city and the State, gave an insight on the ground realities. Mr. Choudhary, a futuristic and visionary officer, has the hope that Patna should one day be compared to Sweden which re-uses 90% of its waste. He highlighted that we need to focus on four aspects in Bihar:
• Political Democracy
• Efficient Bureaucracy
• City Planning
• Single window clearing system

Mr. Ranjan Sinha of NIDAN, discussed at length the fate of various programmes and schemes for urban poor in Bihar such as the un-successful JnNURM and RAY. Land allotment to slum dwellers was and is a major issue in the state and the city. It is obvious that the voices of the poor are not being recognized fully in the current planning and policy environment. However, there have been some initiates such as the pioneering slum policy, vendor policy and upcoming builders act which are positive ray of hope in including the poor. He stressed on the need to have many more of these initiatives to integrate the poor and non-poor in developing an inclusive city.

The ground reality and issues of the urban poor and unrecognized informal workers was raised by many speakers including Bansalji, Nawabji, Johagarji. Other speakers and participants also highlighted how the need of the hour is to concentrate on schemes for water, sanitation, housing and employment for the poor.

The community members also raised many of their concerns such as:
Prakash stated: “Settlement improvement committee has been formed in our slum settlement. We all got collectivized and even mapped our area. However, the maps that we uploaded are not being recognized by the government. The government says that schemes like Rajiv Awas Yojana are not redundant. But they haven’t given us any alternative!’

Shankar Dev Mehato articulated that ‘traditionally the work of cleaning toilets is done by Mehtar caste in Bihar. Today people from other castes are doing this work. We do not have work which is why we are not able to educate our children. Other caste people are given jobs by the government. Today the work done by us is taken over by others. We are not able to do traditional work. We are deprived of our traditional work. The government deprived us of government job. Today in the government we have people from upper class also cleaning the toilets mainly due to corruption. The poor should be asked about the poverty not the rich’

The dialogue led to an exhaustive discussion and concluded with few recommendations for ‘inclusive city building’. Some of these are as follows:

From Poor:
• Availability of basic amenities in slums, water and sanitation facilities as priority needs
• Eviction shared as huge cause of concern and source of insecurity by poor
• Generate avenues of gainful employment in the city for urban poor

From Non-Poor:
• More initiatives from non-poor to be taken up to work for and with poor
• Micro-financing for urban poor to start their own small scale businesses
• Right to land as the basic rights for poor, other needs as house, employment, water, and sanitation will come into picture once the land is allotted to poor in their name
• Computer Literacy Programs for urban poor
• Evaluation of schemes that failed to achieve their objectives like RAY, JNNURUM, slum development programs etc.
• Awareness programme on newly emerged concepts like ‘smart city’
• Conducting survey and researches on issues of urban poverty and urban governance. PRIA conducted a path breaking study to find economic contribution of urban poor has dissolved many myths such as poor spend majority of money on liquor. Instead they spend majority of their income on food.

From Government:
• Need to develop a skilled labour force
• Training need to be identified by the NGOs and logical plans needs to be prepared
• Political Democracy, Efficient Bureaucracy, City Planning and Single Window clearance shared as pillars to achieve city development objective.

Collaborative action for Inclusive cities: Role of Poor, Non-Poor and Government Bihar

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.
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Find below the key points of discussions in this consultation:

Bihar
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:

Table 1: Status of Basic Services in Slums of Bihar and Patna (Census 2011)
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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
• NGOs
• Media
• Academia
2. What should be their roles and how can it help in institutionalizing relationship of poor and non-poor for developing an inclusive cities?

Rajiv Awas Yojana: A RAY of flickering hope for settlements in Patna

Abhishek Jha, PRIA

It’s quite known by now that Government of India’s one of the most ambitious projects Rajiv Awas Yojana (launched in the year 2011) to make India slum free could not live up to people’s expectation.  Though there were some considerable progress under this scheme in some of the states but largely it faltered at most of the places, (it seems so at least in the initial phase).  If we take the case of Bihar the progress of RAY was even more dismal, in fact it never started because of the reasons which were more political than technical.  RAY was a casualty to political demands for declaring Bihar a special category state, since this scheme had different provisions of fund sharing for special category and general states. Nonetheless, this status was never given to Bihar and there was no progress under the scheme. Notably, when the RAY was launched in the country, Government of Bihar prepared a half-baked ‘Bihar State Slum Policy’ in the end of the year 2011 and proudly announced that it is the first state in the county to get a state slum policy passed through its cabinet, but there was (is) no mention of time bound quantified targets and approaches that would be taken in the policy for addressing the needs of urban poor in the state.

Subsequently this political tussle between the state and central government virtually shelved RAY for almost two years in the state, but off late when the political climate across the country changed (thanks to Lok Sabha elections 2014) government of Bihar took some initiatives to launch RAY in the state. At the end of the year 2013 tenders were floated to for hiring agencies for preparing DPRs and Slum Free Plans of Actions for 38 districts headquarter cities of Bihar under RAY and in no time agencies were hired and DPRs were prepared for most of the 38 district headquarter cities of the state, but out of these only few were given a green signal for implementation. Out of those selected also are the two settlements of Patna viz. Adalatganj and Yarpur where in-situ up gradation is being proposed. 

Till date all the surveys have been completed, maps of these settlements are being prepared and people living in these settlements are in upbeat mood envisaging that they will have their own homes soon. But interestingly, knowingly or unknowingly all these progresses has not been shared in the public domain, neither in the media nor elsewhere. Now, if we reflect on the performance of BSUP in the state, it goes like this altogether 2 0,372 dwellings units were sanctioned and DPRs were prepared (it had passed all the processes which is being done for RAY now, including soil testing for construction for G+4 structure ), but finally only 544 dwelling units could be constructed. The most dominating reason behind this was issue of land ownership and availability of hassle free land was not established during the preparation of DPRs which consequently affected the whole project and ultimately the urban poor community. In most of the cases there were multiple-owners of a small piece of land, for which DPRs were prepared, being it be in the form deferent government departments or private ownership. Unfortunately state government didn’t take the lessons of previous failure sincerely and have again prepared DPRs under RAY for settlements where land ownership is multiple. The chances of this project hitting a rough patch as well cannot be ruled out, but hopes stay afloat in galore among the projected beneficiaries in the absence of any information.                        

State Level Consultation on “Status of Urban Poverty and Possible Ways Forward” – Bihar

A state level consultation on “Status of Urban Poverty and Possible Ways Forward” was organized on 18th December 2013 by PRIA at Patna. The Consultation served as a precursor to discussion on the contribution of the urban poor in the city’s economy and deliberate on possible ways to make our cities inclusive, livable and safe. Findings of the PRIA’s study ‘Contribution of Urban Informal Settlement Dwellers to Urban Economy in India’ was also shared in the consultation which helped in drawing attention of people, policy makers and several other stakeholders on ever neglected issues of urban governance and urban development. It also served as a platform to policy makers, civil society, activists, and citizen leaders to share their experiences and insights to the critical issues and challenges of urban poverty and what possible solutions could be derived.

This consultation witnessed an active participation of multiple stakeholders viz. Mr. Shayam Razak Minister (GOB), Mr. Vijoy Prakash Principal Secretary Planning and Development Dept (GOB), Informal Settlement Dwellers and Elected Representatives from Patna, Bodh Gaya and Biharsharif, representatives from various associations and groups of informal sector workers, CSOs, Activists and Media Houses.

Catch the news clipping below:

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When ‘Right to Sanitation’ becomes ‘Right to Life’

By Suman Bhanoo, PRIA

We all are aware of the recent rape in Delhi where a young girl of a basti was subjected to major atrocities in the unguarded public toilet near her basti. This is by no means a stand-alone case and most of the urban poor – especially women and girls have to deal with various issues (health, security and safety, loss of dignity to name few) either due to lack of facilities or ill-equipped services in their slums bastis.

According to United Nations Human Rights, it is estimated that 2.6 billion people live without proper sanitation. Over 1.1 billion people have no sanitation facilities. On the other hand, WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) estimates that 80 percent of the world’s urban population has access to adequate sanitation, compared to only 39 percent of the rural population. However it is a known fact that the health impact of lack of access to sanitation is far worse in urban areas than in rural areas, due to higher density of population.

 Slums of Bihar, where PRIA is initiating activities for Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty, are no exception to the above situation. Besides the usual problems of slums like potable water, sewerage facility, land rights, street light, BPL card and voter card, Ketari slum of Patna is facing huge problem related to sanitation facilities.  According to the slum dwellers, many people prefer plastic bags, sewerage lines, road sides, railway tracks, nearby forest areas, behind bushes, field, streets or other places for defecation that do not provide adequate privacy, safety, dignity and hygiene.  And above all these places are not secure for girls and women. Lack of toilets affects women and girls in particular; it makes them vulnerable to rape and other forms of gender-based violence. Women and girls face threats of sexual assault when they have to walk long distances to sanitation facilities, especially at night.

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Absence of household toilets not only generate element of myriad fears but also pollutes environment and water sources. It is known that world over, millions of children are left malnourished, physically stunted and mentally disabled by excreta-related diseases. To combat   with these issues, residents of slums have formed temporary toilets near to their respective households. Now, after prolonged struggle and wait, in coming month, the slum residents going to get “six public toilets” in their slums. But main agenda is maintenance of “public toilets”. As the adjoining slum “Adalatganj Slum” is facing same issues related to maintenance. In adjacent slum toilet is in worse condition and to avail its services each time residents have to pay 3Rs/. It is a huge amount for whole family. So either they are forced to use ill maintained toilets or they have to defecate in open. Ms. Arzoo Devi from Adalatganj stated every day brings the same problem. For middle class society concept of defecation doesn’t deserve any consideration but for us this simple act of defecation takes thoughtful planning. Being a woman it is matter of dignity, health and safety.

                In June 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the “Sustainable Sanitation: Five-Year Drive to 2015” a push to speed up progress on the Millennium Development Goals of improving global sanitation by 2015 and to ensure sanitation for all. Let see how far it goes….

Power of awareness and collectivisation against forced eviction-Patna

PRIA-Patna

More than 100 slum-dwellers facing threat of eviction without adequate compensation or rehabilitation gathered together and peacefully held a demonstration on 22nd April at Patna, urging the governing authorities to respond adequately to their plight.

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The slum dwellers were the affected residents of various slums abutting the Roopaspur Road in Patna, such as Prem Nagar, Abhimanyu Nagar, Chulai Chowk etc. Roopaspur Road is presently seeing great influx of development and under its proposed road widening scheme would involve demolition of various slum communities that abut it at present. The proposed road widening is for construction of  927m-long Rupaspur-Bailey Road railway overbridge which in name for easing traffic for one sect of society represented by new posh housings and apartments.

PRIA,under its initiative of Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty, has been working along with Dalit Mukhti Mission in these and other slums of Patna. Over the last year, the activities carried out in these slums had informed the slum dwellers of present Slum Policy of Bihar, Mission programmes such as JNNURM and Rajiv Away Yojana etc. The slum dwellers thereby were equipped with awareness of their rights and the accountability of the governing bodies.

On 22nd April when the slum dwellers held a demonstration, it was due to their acquired knowledge that there can be no eviction of the slum dwellers without adequate compensation or rehabilitation either in-situ or at an appropriate location, even if they are not legal residents of the said piece of land.

The residents of these slums were in fact given an ad-hoc ‘notice’ through loudspeakers by said authorities on 18th April to evict their homes within 24 hours. Residents revolted against this fake notice and correctly demanded for a rehabilitation scheme to be discussed with the residents prior to any eviction or demolition.

This situation in Patna is not unique, rather is one of the common challenges of the urban poor throughout the country, who become the victim of disparity under the name of development and progress. However, what is unique is the strength and power of knowledge and collectivisation that the slum dwellers of these communities depicted in their courageous demonstration against dubious actions of the State!

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‘Adhikar’ Rally – Whose ‘Adhikar’ is it anyway!

By Abhishek Jha and Amitabh Bhushan, PRIA

15th of March 2013 Chief Minister of Bihar was in New Delhi to demand from the center a Special State Status (SSS) for Bihar. Indeed the Govt. of Bihar argues that the state needs exceptional funds to catch up in terms of development with rest of the nation.  Four months ago when the same event was organized in Patna (Bihar), PRIA tried to capture some reflections of urban purr communities regarding this so called ‘Adhikar Rally’ (“a rally for demanding the rights”)

Patna, November 2012

Patna, the capital city of Bihar has gone green these days, but unfortunately it is not the trees which are making the city green. It is rather the color of the posters, banners and billboards of the ruling party (JDU) which have been greening Patna (since green is the party’s symbolic color). Just a stroll down the city is enough to give a glimpse of the city’s new found greenery. The whole capital of Bihar has been decked up, and many raths, processions and events are being taken up for making the rally a success. It is noteworthy that this rally is different from all rallies and ‘railas’ (term used by the previous government) which have been organized in the state of Bihar till date, as it for demanding special status for the state of Bihar enabling it to ace access larger funds for bridging the gaps in development. In other way it can also be looked upon as politicization of development. 

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A general view of Patna these days

Every person who is related to the ruling party in some way or the other is leaving no stone unturned to maximize participation of people in the event. Subsequently a question automatically arises who are the participants who make such rallies and events a success by participating in large numbers. Undoubtedly, the people belonging to affluent classes or those who live on the upper part of the societal pyramid do not participate in large numbers in such events unless they have some vested political interest in it, the majority of the participants are those who belong to socially and economically weaker section of the society and the urban poor living in the slums of the city are no different. 

These are the anecdotes from the interaction with people living in the slums of Patna and their perceptions about the ‘Adhikar’ Rally. The first interface was with the people belonging to Mushar community (‘musshar’ literally means rat eaters and this community is considered as most socio-economically vulnerable). This slum is called Morcha Road Mushar Toli and just the entrance of this slum proves the pathetic condition in which people live. The slum altogether has 75-80 households and if we trace the history of this slum, it is almost six decades old, when there existed a river stream and these people lived on the bank of the river, but with the passage of time and city being transformed into a concrete jungle, only a drain is left in the name of river. After having a series of discussions with the community, about their survival strategies in past 60 years, when they were asked who all are participating the upcoming rally, people unanimously said they all are looking forward to it.  When further inquired, what makes them keen to participate in the rally, they said 5 large buses will be coming to pick them up from their doorstep and all the 80 households will fill the buses just because ‘it’s a half day engagement and they are providing us (to all our family members, who will be participating) a day’s meal, this a will save a day’s meal of the whole family what more could we have asked for”

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A view of Morcha road slum

Another interaction was with the slum dwellers of Postal Park, which comprises of multiple groups (caste wise) and were economically better off in comparison to the previous slum. Interface with the community helped us understand the whole process of slum formation in this area and how they have survived various demolitions till date and how they have been living with the fear of eviction even now. When they were posed the similar question about their participation in the ‘Adhikar’ Rally, the participant’s straight forwardly denied their participation in the rally.  This community had a very clear cut idea and they boldly stated that “this ‘Adhikar’ rally is not for our ‘Adhikar’, it is for the ‘Adhikar’ of the politicians ruling in the state so that they can accumulate more and more and our conditions will remain as it is” they further informed they had negated their participation in the rally to the local leader who had approached them.

Now, if we analyze the above two cases its notable that politicians still succeed in mobilizing the emotions of these vulnerable communities in the name of development ( with no concrete plans for them) as key strategies to upscale their political stature and influence inspite improvement in literacy levels, political awareness and consciousness among the marginalized communities in Bihar. On the other hand  it is unfortunate that such huge participation of these marginalized sections are not witnessed in any social campaign designed exclusively for their betterment be it for housing, PDS, Social Security   etc. Another pertinent question which arises at this point of time is that do our social campaigns (the ones taken up by CSOs) have such penetrating capacity for mobilization of marginalized population?  The social campaigners need to rethink now.

  • Are the campaigns run by CSOs coordinated to such extent? 
  • Do the volunteers of social campaigns have such a large outreach?