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Resettlement and Rehabilitation in Urban Centres

The World Bank's policy on involuntary resettlement carries a heavy rural bias as does the Indian draft rehabilitation and resettlement policy. The Maharashtra government's policy on the relocation and rehabilitation of those displaced by the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (partly financed by the World Bank) is therefore significant since it has evolved over the past few years in response to the protests about its initial inadequacies. The lessons learnt from its implementation are relevant not only for large infrastructure projects in densely populated urban areas in India but also in other parts of the world.

COMMENTARYfebruary 7, 2009 EPW Economic & Political Weekly20No Rod Spared, No Child SpoiledToday’s technology of rule is essentially related to the banality of morals. It might even be enabled, it is at least sustained, by the granting of a moral debate, issues of moral equivalence, justification and what not, when it comes to security and the car-pet bombing of the most densely populated area of the world by a liberal democracy. Closer than the Warsaw Ghetto, perhaps, we might think of the Balkans as another enabling event. But be that as it may, it seems to me that the question is no longer a moral one. It is no longer whether or not one can justify or indeed, regret or con-demn such actions, before, during or after the fact. Twenty years later even. Morality is an enduring but banal condition or worse. It is, however, very much part and parcel of the technology of rule we live under, buttressing the political climate and reinforcing the security apparatus that is our religion (others, I am told, might have a different set of apparatuses). Athens and Jerusalem (and yes, Paris, London, and Washington DC). In the passage I men-tioned above, Freud, and I, in his wake, called it religion (but it should make us rethinking what we mean by that term). In the US and in Europe, for better and for worse, the banality of morals ensures (bet-ter, what justifies and condemns) that in Gaza, no rod is spared, no child spoiled.This article is based on field research conducted among the project-affected persons at several project/resettlement sites in the author’s capacity as a short-term consultant with the Inspection Panel of the World Bank (2005) and later as an independent researcher. The views expressed are her own.Renu Modi ( is with the Centre for African Studies, University of Mumbai.Resettlement and Rehabilitation in Urban CentresRenu ModiThe World Bank’s policy on involuntary resettlement carries a heavy rural bias as does the Indian draft rehabilitation and resettlement policy. The Maharashtra government’s policy on the relocation and rehabilitation of those displaced by the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (partly financed by the World Bank) is therefore significant since it has evolved over the past few years in response to the protests about its initial inadequacies. The lessons learnt from its implementation are relevant not only for large infrastructure projects in densely populated urban areas in India but also in other parts of the world.“Makhmal ki chaddar pe ye tat ka paiband kyon?” (why is there a rag patchwork on a velvet sheet?) asked Abdul Karim, who has been displaced by the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP). He was referring (at a stakeholders’ meeting) to the poor qual-ity of tenements constructed at the Moti-lal Nehru Nagar, a resettlement site at the Bandra Kurla Complex, the city’s most expensive business district. Karim’s expression sums up very succinctly the dissatisfaction in some sections of the project displaced about the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) component of the World Bank-financedMUTP. The case study of MUTP highlights the tenuous relationship among economic growth, infrastructure development, displace-ment and issues of social equity in the current context of globalisation that Mumbai exemplifies. The MUTP comprises three segments: (i) the upgradation of the railway trans-port system, improvement and widening of two highways, (ii) the Santacruz- Chembur Link Road (SCLR) and the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) to augment east-west connectivity in the city, and (iii) the R&R component that involves the resettlement of about 20,000 project-affected households (PAHs) or an estimated 1,20,000 persons displaced by the project.1 Several infrastructure deve-lopment projects have redefined the existing land use patterns in the city like the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project (MUIP), the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) or Metro Rail Project, the Airport Modernisation Project and the MUTP. The displacement due to the MUTP is the largest urban displacement caused by a project undertaken with the help of the World Bank in India. Though the projects vary in their nature and scope, they all involve the massive displacement of those in the “right of way” (RoW). The commercial and residential structures displaced by all the above-mentioned projects are being relo-cated at about 33 R&R sites scattered across the city. In the years ahead, planned development and the consequent displace-ment will necessitate R&R on an enormous scale, as Mumbai is projected to become the second-most populous city in the world, with 25 million inhabitants by 2020! The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPa) report says that of the four crore slum population in India, 25% lives in Mumbai. The “...poor people will make up a large part of future urban growth and preparing for an urban future requires, at a minimum, respecting the rights of the poor”, it adds.2 This article limits itself to theMUTP and attempts to critically assess the Maha-rashtra government’sR&R policy. The tenements for rehousing the displaced have been procured partly through the unique private-public partnership (PPP) model under which a stock of housing has been provided by real estate developers at resettlement sites in lieu of lucrative incen-tives such as the Floor Space Index (FSI) and tradable Transfer Development Right (TDR) granted to the builders. The rest of the tenements have been purchased directly from the Maharashtra Housing
COMMENTARYfebruary 7, 2009 EPW Economic & Political Weekly22exaggerated description of the basic socio-economic survey (BSES) conducted for determining the eligiblePAHs under the ongoing projects. However, extra allot-ments to those with money and muscle power or those facilitating speedy vaca-tion of structures in the RoW have been reported, by those affected by the MUTP as well, though the percentage of such case is very small.Multiple Categories of Displacees:The state government’s policy has enumer-ated two major categories, titled and non-titled landholders. In fact the field reality is more complex. For example, there are tenants under the pagri (ownership) sys-tem that has been the practice prior to 1947. The tenants have objected to their categorisation as squatters and the applicability of the policy meant for slumdwellers to them. Private Property Owners: In many cases the land records have not been updated. Owners of private property have objected to their being clubbed together with the “squatter category” of slum-dwellers. Sev-eral of them have gone to court on the issue of inadequate compensation. Litigations has delayed the land acquisition process and in turn the project’s implementation.Multiple Agencies/Multiple Displace-ments for Some PAHs: Some PAHs are being displaced simultaneously by two ongoing projects or partially affected by two different projects, or have been dis-placed earlier by the Municipal Corpora-tion of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and are now displaced for the second time after a hiatus of a few years by the MUIP or the MUTP. In the case of the MUTP, some of the PAHs in the Kismet Nagar Area are also affected by the Mithi River Project that is being implemented in contiguous areas. This has created uncertainties about compensation due to lack of coordination between the implementing agencies, mainly theMMRDA and the MCGM.Multiple Allotments and Resale: There are allegations that some of the PAHs have received more than one allotment in the name of extended family members (based on the multiple entries in theBSES). As per the slum rehabilitation policy, the flats allotted toPAHs cannot be resold for a period of 10 years. Impact assessment studies at various resettlement sites reveal that several flats have however been sold. The Post Relocation Scenario: Critics have labelled the state’sR&R policy as a mere rehousing scheme, as little or no attention has been paid to issues of disrup-tion of access to schools, hospitals, com-munity assets, and source of employment in the new neighbourhoods.Poor Quality of R&R Buildings: The builders have garnered windfalls under thePPP model, but the quality of construc-tion is shoddy. Cracks in the walls, leak-ages and seepages are evidence of poor monitoring of the quality of construction and approvals and clearances for the same. The builder-bureaucrat nexus has been let off the hook and can no longer be held accountable as most of these con-structions are beyond the defect-liability period (DLP). Though the procurements under the PPP model is certainly novel it has severe limitations. Government’s Responses to Anti- displacement Protests: The state govern-ment’s policy probably did not anticipate the complexities involved at the time of it being framed. The political and economic debate that such protests generated and the withdrawal of World Bank funding for the project in March 2006 led to some rethinking by the government on the R&R policy. Subsequently, there was a marked improvement in order to enable resump-tion of project funding. These changes were: disclosure of project information on the MMRDA’s web site and at public infor-mation centres, increased stakeholder par-ticipation whereby the PAPs were invited to consultation meetings where their views on a more suitable R&R could be taken, access to a grievance redressal procedure, choice of alternative resettlement sites, option of monetisation of compensation for certain categories of MUTP displacees who were not satisfied with the existing R&R package. The World Bank agreed to resume funding in view of the improvements but subject to the condition that such concerted efforts to augment and meet the standards spelt out on involuntary resettlement in the case of the MUTP would be continued. Maharashtra is the only state to have a comprehensive policy for displacement and resettlement in the urban context. The lessons learnt from the MUTP and the evolution of the R&R policy in a city where development projects criss-cross established and densely populated human settlements will be of relevance in the years ahead, as planned development and the consequent displacement will necessi-tateR&R on an enormous scale. Notes and References1 For details please refer to Inspection Panel Investi-gation Report, India: Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) (2006) and related reports at,,contentMDK:20223785~pagePK:64129751~piPK:64128378~theSitePK:380794,00.html, accessed on 20 October 2008.2 The “State of the World Population”, 2007 Report released by the United Nations Population Fund on 27 June 2007, states that the city of Mumbai has a population of 16 million and a density of 29,650 people/sq km. It states that 37% of the world’s slum population lives in India and China and India will be home to four crore-slum popu-lations. The report also predicts that towns and cities in developing countries will comprise 80% of the world population. For details see accessed 28 July 2007.3 Paragraph 11: “...If land is not the preferred option of the displaced persons, the provision of land would adversely affect the sustainability of a park or protected area, or sufficient land is not available at a reasonable price, non-land-based options built around opportunities for employ-ment or self-employment should be provided in addition to cash compensation for land and other assets lost. The lack of adequate land must be demonstrated and documented to the satisfac-tion of the Bank.” Paragraph 13 (b): “In new resettlement sites or host communities, infrastructure and public serv-ices are provided as necessary to improve, restore, or maintain accessibility and levels of service for the displaced persons and host communities. Alternative or similar resources are provided to compensate for the loss of access to community resources (such as fishing areas, grazing areas, fuel, or fodder)” (ibid) (,,contentMDK:20064610~isCURL:Y~pagePK:64141683~piPK:64141620~theSitePK:502184,00.html4 For details on the R&R entitlement matrix refer to the implementation manual at Sheet for AuthorsWhile preparing their articles for submission, contributors are requested to follow EPW’s style sheet.The style sheet is posted onEPW’s web site at will help immensely for faster processing and error-free editing if writers follow the guidelines in style sheet, especially with regard to citation and preparation of references.

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