Sixth Critical Studies Conference Kolkata

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Sixth Critical Studies ConferenceKolkataCitizenship, Urban Governance and Access to Civic Services:Delhi Municipal Elections 2017Dr. RUMKI BASUProfessor of Public AdministrationDepartment of Political ScienceJamia Millia Islamia, New DelhiEmail: mailtorumkibasu@gmail.comandDr. Moitri DeAssistant Professor of Political ScienceMatasundri College for WomenUniversity of Delhi1

IntroductionIndia’s urban population with 377 million (2011 Census)constituting 31.6% of our total population is projected to cross50% by 2050 (UN Population Fund estimates). The number ofstatutory and census towns increased from 3799 and 5161 to4041 and 7935 from 2001 to 2011 respectively.India’s 8000cities together contributed 63% of the GDP in 2007, and this isexpected to go upto 75% by 2021 (2011 census). However thepace of urbanization in India is posing challenges related toservice delivery and infrastructure, housing, environment, andtransportation.Infrastructure is often deficient and servicedelivery standards are sub-optimal specially for the urban poor.If the urban challenges are not tackled appropriately, India’scities will only get increasingly chaotic and rural poverty will beconverted into urban poverty.Delhi is among the most populous cities of the world with 18million people and its projected population growth will make itamong the first three by 2025. However, Delhi is not a resourcepoor city, it has the highest per capita income and wages besidesthe largest number of private vehicles in India.New Delhi’splanned landscape, government complexes, foreign missions,aesthetically designed enclaves covering only 2% of Delhi’spopulation is governed by a non-elected municipal body.New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is the local body of the cityof New Delhi. The area under its administration is referred to asthe NDMC area. NDMC, covering an area of 43.7 km is governedby a council with a chairperson appointed by the central2

government and includes the Chief Minister of Delhi. The state ofDelhi is divided into three statutory urban regions: the NDMC,the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the DelhiCantonment Board region.The MCD governed part of Delhicovers the largest area – 1397.3 km. It has the onerous task ofproviding civic services to urban villages, resettlement colonies,“regularized” as well as “unauthorized” colonies besides slumsettlements. MCD is an autonomous body that governs 8 of the11 Districts of Delhi. It is among the largest municipal bodies inthe world providing civic services to more than an estimatedpopulation of 11 million citizens in the capital city. Recently theMCD has been trifurcated into 3 smaller Municipal Corporations– North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi MunicipalCorporation and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.The Delhi Cantonment Board works under the Cantonments Act2006 governing an area of 10,791.88 acres with a population of110351 (census 2011).The Delhi Cantonment houses the DelhiCantonment Area and other defence related installations in thecity.Under MCD jurisdiction, posh planned colonies like Vasant Viharand Defence Colony coexist with middle income level housingcomplexes (massive townships like Dwarka and Rohini) whereMCD provides basic services – road maintenance, garbageremoval, street lighting, community parks, primary schools andhealth clinics. Water and electricity is the responsibility of DelhiJal Board and Delhi Vidyut Board working directly under theState Government of Delhi. Since 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party3

(AAP) government slashed the power tariff to half and provided20,000 litres of free water for all residents.The “unplanned” part of the city under MCD jurisdiction has the“majority” of city votes.That is the reason why the sevenmembers of Parliament, 70 members of Delhi legislative assemblyand 272 municipal councilors – (elected representatives) indulgeexisting voters with their own brand of “appeasement politics” lectricity, clean sewerage and “regularization”.The unplanned part of the city – constitute three unorganizedclusters living in close proximity to one another. These 0unauthorized colonies and 135 urban villages. Political partieshave seen to it that the slum settlements receive immunity fromdemolition except through judicial orders, get supply of drinkingwater, a modicum of sewage disposal, food subsidies and anelection voting card.The second group consists of over 1000unauthorized colonies. The occupants bought agricultural landprivately, (an illegal transaction) since converting or subdividingagricultural land required approvals that were never obtained.Without sale deeds or building plans, shoddy structures,deficient sewerage systems and insubstantial basic amenities,these housing areas have been shunned by the municipal systembut many such colonies get “regularized” from time-to-time.The third large group comprises 135 urban villages. Dotted allover Delhi and interspersed among planned residential andcommercial complexes, these villages are precariously built4

structures standing amidst electric wires, shoddy hutments andgarbage.Ironically the elected Municipal Corporation of Delhiwhich is the custodian of public health and safety, exempted allurban villages from paying property tax or following any buildingregulations.These are the grim present realities of Delhi’s demographicchanges in the last three decades, in the backdrop of whichDelhi’s urban development seems extremely problematic. BothDelhi’s frenzied expansion or the politics of “appeasement”practiced by successive elected governments leaves the taskof the Municipal Corporations (MCDs) of Delhi extremelychallenging in providing uniform civic services.There are key drawbacks of Delhi’s Master Plans, which werenever prepared for the “population explosion”, that actuallyhappened in the period they were planning for.FurthermoreDelhi is governed by multiple agencies- water, power, roads,public transport and land are controlled by other parastatals ofline departments of Central and State governments makingcoordination difficult.MCD is responsible only for solid wastemanagement, maintenance of public spaces and some basicrepairs and maintenance of other services such as roads, streetlighting and drainage systems while many other functions havebeen outsourced to other bodies.The launch of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban RenewalMission (JNNURM) towards the end of 2005 significantlyenhanced both the local governance and urban planning systemsin India’s largest cities. One of the prerequisites for any city to5

access funds from Central government was to prepare a CityDevelopment Plan. The Community Participation Law under the74th constitutional amendment provides for going further downand reaching the people which has never been implemented inany city.MohallaIt makes provisions for constituting Area Sabhas/Samitiswithina“ward”foradministration nearer to the lIn Delhi, the mohallaappsandmassiveadvertisement campaigns led by the AAP government regardingpublic services since 2015 have probably led to renewed debateson citizens’ right to uniform civic services than ever before.The research hopes to look at both models: (a) “universal” or (b)“differentiated” in terms of citizen access to basic urban civicservices and offer a rationale for choosing one or the other for thecity of Delhi. The “majority” of Delhi’s urban dwellers are floatingmigrants with no clearly defined rights to its urban city space orits civic services.Therefore should there be a universalentitlement policy with regard to basic civic services (benchmarks universally defined) for all city dwellers, or should allbasic amenities be given access on the basis of “privatecapacity to pay” or the “ability to pay” mandatory taxes?This is the basic research question this paper sets to address.Janagraha Survey of Cities:Last year, the NDA government launched its flagship program todevelop 100 smart cities across India. But Indian cities still havea long way to go before they can be considered smart.6

A survey of 21 cities carried out by Bangalore based advocacygroup Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy foundIndian cities continue to fare poorly—scoring in the range of 2 to4.2 on 10, as against the global benchmarks of London and NewYork, which have scored 9.4 and 9.7 respectively on variousurban government indicators1.These scores imply that Indian cities are grossly under-preparedto deliver a high quality of life that is sustainable in the longterm.This is particularly worrisome, given the rapid pace ofurbanization in India and the huge backlog in public servicedelivery (Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems report, 2016)Of the 21 cities, Mumbai with an overall score of 4.2 has beenranked at the top for investing adequate funds in publicinfrastructure and services, having skilled manpower to run itsmunicipalities, using information technology for governance andencouraging citizen’s participation among others. Chandigarh isat the bottom of the list. Delhi is ranked 9th. The national capitalfares poorly, scoring 0.9 out of 10 for failing to implement thecity’s master plan successfully. However Delhi’s MCD is notresource poor, since it generates 50 %(own revenue) of theamount they spend.Today, more than 70% of Delhi’s population live in illegalsettlements. Since the 1960s, Delhi’s flawed master plans withinsufficient allocation for low-cost housing have led to themushrooming of illegal housing colonies in the face of large-scalemigration from neighboring states.7

Similarly, the survey found that none of the 21 cities have aneffective mechanism in place to deter master plan violations withall cities scoring zero. The survey does not focus on thedysfunctional aspects of Indian cities that stare out at citizensthe potholed roads, lack of 24x7 water supply or overstretchedpublic transport.It seeks to highlight the flawed legislations,policies, processes and practices that lie at the root of theseissuesA majority of the 21 cities lack skilled manpower in themunicipalities with many having large scale vacancies, the surveyfound. Patna, for instance has 64% vacancies in its municipalcorporation followed by Bangalore (52%) and Mumbai (21%).Delhi however has the highest ratio of employees per lakhpopulation and therefore MCDs in Delhi are not understaffed.Lack of adequate number of skilled staff in municipalities couldlead to lower property tax collections and own revenues, whichaffects a city’s financial resources.The report leads us to the firm belief that there are a common setof root causes that underlie most quality of life challenges in ourcities.Unless we address these root causes of poor spatialplanning and political leadership, our quality of life is unlikely s,constituting a metropolitan planning committee anchored y’smetropolitan plan among others to address the deficiencies incity planning2.8

Notions of Participatory GovernanceIndia, and more specifically Delhi, provides an ideal context forexploring urban participatory governance for at least two reasons.Firstly, the Bhagidari scheme, an urban participatory devicelaunched in 2000 by the Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dixitprovides a good example of a clear political emphasis onparticipatory governance in urban management.The scheme,defining itself as “a citizen-government partnership” (Bhagidariwebsite) is designed to facilitate consultation between residentsand city administrators in order to develop a localized form ofparticipation that extends civic engagement beyond elections,focusing primarily on the quality of urban services.Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) are common in Delhi’surban middle-class neighbourhoods, and have existed since the1950s.In Delhi’s authorized colonies RWAs are linked to theresidency occupation process following the construction and/orsale of plots by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). RWAsarenon ption, whose self proclaimed role is to represent theinhabitants of a physical area or colony. Although the activities ofRWAs vary significantly, and somefunction primarily asmanagement committees (especially in new housing estates rastructure and basic services in the area: for example roads,parks, water, electricity, and solid waste removal.They alsogenerally promote resident community feeling through the9

celebration of festivals, and sometimes through the creation of aninformal assistance service. The strategies employed by RWAs nicipalities and other public authorities range from strategiesof collective persuasion, to the organization of demands andcomplaints (e.g. via petitions and demonstrations). AlthoughRWAs exclusively prioritize the needs of residents within a smallbounded physical area, more recently RWAs in Delhi haveextended these self-serving interests beyond neighbourhood-levelissues, promoting a middle-class agenda of “active” citizenshipacross the city. For example, promoting the “greening” of the city,to the exclusion of other politically organized (needs often morenumerous urban voices) such as the poor’s need for basicservices (e.g. Fernandes, 2004; Baviskar and Ray, 2009).Thisexclusion can be rationalised by the RWAs normative vision ofurban citizenship as restricted to “respectable” and “tax-paying”urban-dwellers (i.e. the middle and upper-classes), in contrast to“illegitimate” floating migrants (i.e. the poor) residing in the city.The AAP government of Delhi conceived Mohalla Sabhas with thevision to decentralize governance and decision-making at thelevel of the community or Mohalla. The idea of deepening urbandemocracy to a level lower than the “ward” found place first inthe Community Participation Law, passing which by states was anecessary condition for the release of certain funds underJNNURM. Delhi government’s efforts in this direction marks thefirst attempt by any state government to deepen democracy.Mohalla Sabhas have been notified but yet to be rolled out andfunctioning in Delhi.10

Housing Typologies in Delhi: How do they impact municipalservicesDelhi has had three Master plans, made by the DelhiDevelopment Authority (DDA), a para-statal, technocratic body,appointed (not elected) by and reporting to the Central Ministry ofUrban Development. The three Master Plans of Delhi (MPDs) havebeen prepared for 1962, 2001 and 2021. Each is a twenty yearplan, intended to capture growth in the city and mark detailedland use categories and divide the National Capital Territory ofDelhi into an “urban development area” and “rural” zones. Fromthe 2021 Master Plan, a third category of “urbanisable area” wasadded, presumably to mark areas for future expansion. If we lookat the table, “planned colonies” is only one of the eight categoriesof housing in the city, inhabited by only 23.7% of the populationin 2000. Planned colonies are those that are built on plotsmarked in the “development area” of the Master Plan, inconcordance with the use allocated to that plot in the Masterplan or the zonal plan and that are presumably laid outaccording to norms and standards defined in the master plan fordesign, infrastructure and civic amenities. A “planned colony”supposedly fulfilled all these conditions at the time that it wasbuilt. Therefore they can be termed “planned, legal andlegitimate” colonies. Over time, two types of changes have comeabout in planned colonies-the extension of individual housingunits beyond permissible limits of covered and built area(including extensions into public land, areas and roads) as wellas widespread violations of permitted use, particularly the11

commercial use of residential premises. In other words, evenwithin the planned colonies, there are layers of unplannedactivities and informal uses and successive plans have createdlayers of “exemptions” to handle these non-conforming uses.Settlements in DelhiTypes of SettlementEstimated Population in 2000Percentage of Total(100,000s)Population of CityJJ Clusters20.7214.8Slum Designated Areas26.6419.1Unauthorized Colonies7.405.3JJ Resettlement colonies17.7612.77.405.317.7612.78.886.4Planned Colonies33.0823.7Total139.64100Rural VillagesRegularized-UnauthorizedColoniesUrban VillagesSource: Drawn based on data from Government of Delhi sources(This table clearly shows that 75% of the city lives in housing that isapparently unplanned. Even in 2017 the position remains roughly the same.Unauthorised ColoniesThe population of Delhi increased by six million between 1962 to2007 when the MPD’21 was notified-yet no new land was notifiedas an urban “development area” by the DDA from 1962 to 1990.MPD’01 added 4000 hectares and MPD’21 20,000 hectares as12

“development area” notified as “residential”. For colonies built inbetween plans, it was impossible to get the tag of a “plannedcolony” as they had no way to meet the basic classificatoryprinciple of the table: i.e. the building of the colony on landmarked and zoned “residential” within the “development area”.Residents therefore were forced to build shelter in what became,by implication, a range of unplanned colonies. This is partly aresult of DDA’s inadequate housing protection but in equal partthe result of its refusal to include already built up areas withinthe “development area” of the Master Plan. This illegalinhabitation, interestingly has defined the processes of habitationfor the poor and the rich alike, though the consequences of these“illegalities” are different for each. An unauthorised colony getscreated when land is bought by an individual aggregator-fromeither individual farmers or the gram sabha and aggregated intothe size of a colony. Though the purchase from this aggregator byindividual buyers is formal, it is not legal since “agricultural land”cannot be used for non-agricultural purposes. Though all houseowners have formal documents, none of these can be registeredwith the local authorities as recognised legal property titlesbecause the colony does not exist on the Plan. However there isno recorded case of an eviction from an unauthorised colony.They enjoy a de-facto security of tenure and privately “buy”municipal services. Periodically, an unauthorised colony is“recognised” through a process-the property titles get recognisedby law and can be registered. The process involves an attempt toalign the unauthorized colony as closely with planned norms ofthe settlement layout (including building codes) as well as the13

payment of a onetime “conversion charge”. There have been threemajor waves of regularization in Delhi-1962(102 colonies), thesecond wave in 1975(567 regularized) in the third wave in 1993applications were again invited for regularizations. In 2009,733(out of 1639 applications) of these colonies were regularized.In the absence of objective criteria by which the regularizationprocess functions, it is indeed the discretion of the DDA to decidewho will become legal and at what time. Once again, it is thePlans, which determine, through their discretionary ability tonotify or not notify parts of the city within the “developmentarea”, as well as through waves of “regularization” that decidewhich colonies will be “legal” or not legal.Urban villages are settlements, located throughout the city andlargely consist of ex rural villages that have been incorporatedinto urban areas as the city expanded. Urban villages areplanned since they are included explicitly within the Master Plan.In order to be able to “retain” their character, urban villages areexempt from any building norms, mixed use or single use owningclassifications. In other words, urban villages may build to any

Dr. RUMKI BASU Professor of Public Administration Department of Political Science Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi Email: and Dr. Moitri De Assistant Professor of Political Science Matasundri College for Women University of Delhi . 2 Introduction India’s urban population with 377 million (2011 Census) constituting 31.6% of our total population is projected to cross .

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