Tag Archives: SPARC

Forced evictions of the poor in name of 'development'!


An article published in Times of India earlier this week announced that though the majority of people living in UN-surveyed cities possess tenancy documents of some type, many still fear forced eviction from their homes.  The article referenced the UN Millennium Development Goals of 2012, which claimed that the most obvious violation of housing rights faced by the urban poor today is eviction without due legal process.

Forced eviction is the first of countless problems that the poor will face as they struggle to find safe and sanitary housing alternatives.   Poor communities may not get resettled into permanent housing locations for months following evictions.  After being evicted family breadwinners often cannot continue with their jobs, either because long commutes to work prevent them from living out their previous livelihoods or because the market and commerce districts of their old communities disappear along with their old homes.  The poor may face problems of sanitation and safety when they released into the streets without homes to return to.  Children often cannot continue with school once uprooted.  The knock-on consequences of eviction go on and on and on. . .

Many people conceive of urban development as the modernization and expansion of facilities.  Better sewage systems, bigger malls, new sports complexes, expanded airports, reliable power lines, luxury condominiums –all of these improvements within a city can serve as emblems of urban progress.  But in most big cities, these facility improvements come at the cost of relocating people who live informally in slums and on the pavements.  Expansion does not occur without the opportunity cost of poor peoples’ futures.

Development in its purest form extends beyond the elite classes.  When contemplating human development and progress, we must assume a more holistic view.  Uplifting the circumstances of the poorest of the poor will enhance the economy, education, health, standards of living–sectors that endure beyond the momentary gratification of glitzy buildings and material prowess.  When considering worthwhile approaches to development, we must seek solutions that can reach all sectors of society at once.  Only through united and democratic progress can we achieve the momentum necessary to cave urban issues.


State and City Level Consultations on Urban Poverty- Kerala by SAHAYI, PRIA and SPARC – May 2012

By Sri. G. Jose, Project Manager, Sahayi

With the intention of strengthening civil society voices on urban poverty in Kerala, Sahayi in collaboration with PRIA, New Delhi and SPARC, Mumbai has initiated a promotional and facilitative role in Kerala. . As first step of its intervention, Sahayi organised a city level consultation on urban poverty in Kollam Corporation on May 26, 2012 and 76 participants participated in the programme and a state level consultation at Thiruvanthapuram on the 28th of May with 30 participants.

Kollam saw participation of The Municipal Corporation Councilors, civil society organisation representatives, leaders of Community Development Societies and other community based organisations, residents associations , officials, representatives of different agencies which undertake poverty reduction programmes like RAY, KSUDP, Kudumbasree and media personnel. At Thiruvanthapuram participants comprised leading civil society organisations like Malankara Social Service Society, Trivandrum Social Service Society, World vision India, Loyola Extension Service; Community Development Society, corporation councilor, officials from urban poverty alleviation cell, residents association leaders, project officer from Rajeev Awas Yojana etc.

Director of Sahayi, Sri. G. Placid highlighted the current trend of growth of population in urban area and the issues related to high density of population such as increased urban poverty, Increase in the number of slums, unemployment, lack of basic amenities and services and increasing violence and crime. He added that the magnitude of urban unemployment is increasing due to the weakness of the economy, short sighted vision of the planners, non-sustainability of the initiated actions through different projects and programmes. He also stated that in Kollam Municipal Corporation area most of the urban poor are working in unorganized sector such as fishing, cashew manufacturing workers, domestic work; street vending etc. Their low economic status forced them to live in slums and colonies. He further  shared the availability and utilization of plan fund  by the municipalities and corporation during the  11th five year plan period in Kerala, and the low profile of spending in Corporations  during the  year 200-2008-2010-2011 especially in anti-poverty programmes, women component plans etc

Sri. A.A.Assis, Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly and State Secretary of Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) at Kollam mentioned that even though Municipal Corporations and state Government have developed policies, prepared programmes and budgets and implemented such programmes for urban poverty reduction those who are responsible for its implementation are implementing such activities without understanding the true spirit. The powers now vest in people but the people are not yet prepared themselves to take up and effectively make use of the powers. So he stressed the need for empowering the community especially the poor and marginalised and ensures the effective conduct of Ward Sabhas/Ward Committees with active participation of the community.

Adv. Lalu, Deputy Mayor, Kollam Municipal Corporation opined that the major challenges they faced with regard to the rehabilitation of slum dwellers/urban poor were shortage of land and rapid increasing land price and the unwillingness of slum dwellers to move into new premises, slums are on railway land and even the indicators developed for BPL identification are inadequate.

During the experience sharing session, the welfare standing committee Chairman of Kollam Corporation, who is in-charge of Kudumbasree activities, stated instead of allotting funds to pre-determined programmes, programmes to be developed on the basis of felt needs identified through participatory methods. Moreover, implementation of the programmes to be monitored and their efficacy to be evaluated by the community. But unfortunately no such intervention is happened so far. He further stated that the LSGs are preparing projects first and then think of beneficiaries and this is the drawback of many poverty reduction schemes.

Shri. Karthikeyan at Thiruvanthapuram, Programme officer, Rajeev Awas Yojana State Cell explained the activities of RAY in improving the living conditions of slum dwellers. Rev. Fr. Sabbas Ignatius, Director, Trivandrum Social Service Society(TSSS) and Rev. Fr. John Vilayil, Director, Malankara Social Service Society presented the work their respective organisations do on urban poverty issues.

The participants raised several key issues in connection with poverty reduction and pointed out certain remedial measures to address the issues. The major issues highlighted by them include; lack of coordination among various agencies working for poverty reduction, lack of sincere attempt on the part of authorities to ensure people’s participation, apathetic attitude of community members towards welfare/development activities, beneficiary oriented approach of urban poor, improper identification of the needs of the area and the beneficiaries, non accessibility of information on the status of urban poverty reduction programmes, limited involvement of community members in the implementation and monitoring of various programmes due to several reasons, lack of awareness among various stakeholders including urban poor regarding poverty reduction programmes and the components in each programmes, lack of unity and coordination among CBOs.


Rajasthan is listening – House urban poor and give them the land title – says State Principal Urban Development Secretary

Shared by Prakash Pathak, PRIA and Rajasthan-PRIA
Source: The Hindu on 8 June 2012

On June 2, PRIA and SPARC held a State Level Consultation at Jaipur for Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty in India. Various aspects about Rajiv Awas Yojana, facilities to the slum dwellers, number of slums, participation of the slum dwellers themselves in the development process and aspects of tenure and livelihood were discussed.
Mr. Sandhu, the State Principal Urban Development Secretary was positive and declared that a the government is undertaking a ‘Pilot Project at Sanjay Nagar in Jaipur’. He was of the opinion that the State Government should not just provide housing but also give tenure rights to the slum dwellers and should prepare an Act for the same.
Hope Civil Society keeps a watch on these plans by the government and ensures active participation of the slum dwellers and the civil society at large!!

Catch the news below:

Call to Strengthen Civil Society Engagement & Promote Community Participation to Address Urban Poverty: Rajasthan

Shared by Tripti Sharma, PRIA – Rajasthan,

Source: Sunday Times -Jaipur, http://lite.epaper.timesofindia.com/mobile.aspx?article=yes&pageid=3&edlabel=TOIJ&mydateHid=03-06-2012&pubname=&edname=&articleid=Ar00301&format=&publabel=TOI

The urban poor need to be accorded the highest priority in the planning process for cities and the civil society’s role should be strengthened in resolving the issues of urban poverty with the emphasis on community participation in the initiatives for housing, livelihood generation, expansion of civic amenities and conversion of slums into modern colonies.

These views emerged at a day-long multi-stakeholder consultation on “Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty in Rajasthan” organized at the Institute of Development Studies here today. The participants were mainly the policy planners, elected representatives of urban local bodies, activists, government officers, civil society representatives and residents of slum localities in Jaipur.

The consultation helped in evolving a collective understanding on methods and approaches to address the issues of the poor people living in cities. It was organized jointly by the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centre (SPARC) .

The recognition of urban poverty and its scale, manifestation, causes and consequences remain obscure in the current development planning process. In Jaipur alone, 22.4 % of the population resides in the slum areas and the administration listed as many as 238 slum locations in 2011. The slum population in Jaipur is estimated at 4.87 lakhs. These were some of the findings revealed in a presentation made at the consultation.

The prominent speakers at the consultation were Mr. Sundar Burra, retired IAS and Advisor PRIA and SPARC, Mr. G.S. Sandhu, Principal Secrertary, Local Self Government Department, Rajasthan, Mr. K.B. Kothari, Member, CTAG, and Managing Trustee, Pratham-Rajasthan, Jaipur, Ms. Aditi Mehta, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Rajasthan, Jaipur Mayor, Ms. Jyoti Khandelwal, and Kota Mayor, Ms. Ratna Jain.

According to the PRIA State Coordinator, Mr. Krishan Tyagi, the consultation strived to sensitize and educate different sections of society about the need to strategically and collectively focus on the issues relating to urban poverty, which is typically equated with slums and squatter settlements. A weak civil society voice on urban planning has led to a situation in which the demand for inclusive and poor-driven urban development, including housing, sanitation and livelihoods in cities, has failed to influence the public policies and programmes in this sector.

The PRIA Director, New Delhi, Mr. Manoj Rai, said the civil society needs to articulate its voice for ensuring that the urban poor are not only included but they actually drive the implementation of schemes such as the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), which envisages a slum-free India. The benefits of various slum improvement programmes launched in Rajasthan since 1973 have not accrued to the target population in real terms, said Mr. Rai.

Mr. G.S. Sandhu said the pilot project under the RAY would be started shortly at a cost of Rs. 400 crore at the Sanjay Nagar Bhatta Kachi Basti in Jaipur. This will pave the way for full-fledged implementation of the ambitious scheme, under which the state government intends to give the land title to the people getting the allotment. The state government will also bring an Act for this purpose, said Mr. Sandhu.

Mr. Sundar Burra said the RAY should not be treated as the last word on urban housing. For addressing urban poverty, the efforts should go beyond housing alone and address other equally important issues of livelihood and excess to resources. The social infrastructure, comprising health and education, should also be strengthened with the community participation, he suggested.

Ms. Aditi Mehta said the development of social infrastructure should be accompanied by the drive for cohesion in the society, as the migrant population was often found to have stratification on the basis of caste and region, which gave rise to tension and conflict. She noted that urban poverty was a greater challenge in comparison with the rural poverty and laid emphasis on carrying out meaningful surveys to find out the correct picture.

Mr. K.B. Kothari pointed out that the government officers themselves sometimes did not have proper information about the infrastructure and background of slums and cited the instance of Bhatta Basti slum, which is situated on the forest land. He called for development of leadership and management in the urban sector and suggested that the community centres numbering about 100 in Jaipur be utilized for education, health care and employment training.

Ms. Jyoti Khandelwal said there were several technical problems involved in the functioning of Jaipur Municipal Corporation and there were several areas in which it did not enjoy unfettered powers. Even the RAY would involve the Jaipur Development Authority as its implementing agency. She said she was interacting regularly with the slum dwellers and was willing to settle their grievances.

Ms. Ratna Jain pointed out that poor people were not confined to slums alone and suggested that livelihood generation schemes be promoted to address the issue of urban poverty. She said the minimum wages at the rate of Rs. 135 per day should be ensured to all workers and benefits of Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana be extended to the deserving people.

Dr. Adesh Chaturvedi, State Coordinator, Capacity Development for Local Governance, UNDP, Rajasthan, suggested that the private investors be taken to the slum colonies and encouraged to launch construction of multi-storey residential buildings and take up employment generation projects.

The residents of several slum colonies of Jaipur, who were invited as the people from the grassroots to the consultation, narrated their tales of poverty and hardships and appealed to the policy makers to devise ways for reducing their suffering. The technical officers of RAY and officials from the government departments dealing with urban development and social security listened to their grievances and promised to evolve strategies to deal with them.

State/ City Consultations on Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty – Rajasthan/ Kerala

PRIA and SPARC along with a number of partner civil society and community based organization are working towards strengthening civil society voices and actions on ever increasing issues in urban poverty in different states of the country.

One of the major inadequacies in taking forward the agenda of inclusion and active participation of the urban poor in various government run programmes is weak civil society engagement with issues of urban poverty and urban governance. There are just a handful of civil society organizations in the country, which have focused on organizing and mobilizing the urban poor to claim their rights and thereby to secure active participation and ownership of urban development programmes. There is no national network of civil society, or even a sub- sectorial coalition, that focuses on these issues on a sustained basis.  A strong civil society engagement would be crucial at city level and also at the state government level; however, engagement at the national level can then be valuable to ensure supportive policies and guidelines from the central government and other agencies like the Planning Commission.

With the aim to strengthen this civil society participation, we are organising State and City Level Consultation in Kerala (Trivandrum and Kollam) and Rajasthan (Jaipur)

In Kerala, city and state level multi stakeholder consultations, is to be held respectively on 26th May and 28th May in Kollam and Trivandrum, and is aimed at sharing (cum action planning on the basis) of collective experiences.. The objective of this consultation is to evolve a collective understanding through dialogues on methods and approaches to address the issues of urban poverty in the state. This consultation would also strive to sensitize and educate different sections of society about the need to strategically and collectively focus on issues of urban poor. We are expecting participants from community, civil society, academia, media and government to participate in this consultation.

In Jaipur, we are organizing a state level workshop on 2nd June, 2012, at Institute for Development Studies (IDS), Jhalana Institutional Area, Jaipur, to ensure supportive strategies and tactics for enhancing community participation and ascertaining people participation by empowering the stakeholders by the knowledge about various government run programmes and schemes.

For more details on the consultations please be free to contact TerraUrban!