ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Review of Urban AffairsSubscribe to Review of Urban Affairs

Surveying Slums

With an increased policy emphasis on slum surveys, the story of such surveys in Delhi assumes importance, including the "power to survey" vested in the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. There is a need to closely analyse the way in which such surveys are carried out, the data that are collected, and the purposes for which they might be used. A review of the legal frameworks on slum surveying and the case of Delhi reveal that there is much variation in the process of data collection. Surveys that determine the mode of rehabilitation of a slum have life-changing implications for residents, and survey processes have to be accurate and participative.

Reading Spatial Inequality in Urban India

Where one lives matters because patterns of spatial inequality shape the horizons of urban lives. They also critically affect urban policies, especially in large metropolitan cities where intra-urban differences can be of very large magnitudes. Gaining insights from recently released ward-level census data for urban settlements, this paper uses a set of constructed indices and geospatial maps to focus on spatial inequality within cities and across scales of settlements. Arguing that the slum is not a proxy for urban poverty and inadequate housing patterns, it underscores the need for newer methods to spatially trace multidimensional urban poverty and vulnerability.

Big Data to Improve Urban Planning

Data analytics is a frontier field where the tools and techniques are still being developed. Expertise, a critical input, is in short supply, the other being access to data. Even so, Colombo-based LIRNEasia has demonstrated the value of mobile network big data for urban planning in Sri Lanka's capital city. Pseudonymised, historical call detail records from multiple mobile operators have been analysed to understand and monitor land use, congregations of people, peak and off-peak travel patterns, communities, and traffic.

Data, Urbanisation and the City

By using the enormous processing capacity of computing that is now available, we can, it is claimed, improve how cities are governed--make them smart! This review attempts to illuminate how data reveals relationships between citizens and the state and thus facilitates an informed debate on whether data can be deployed to build a more inclusive and constructive relationship between citizens and their government. As urbanisation deepens, we see struggles around who gets to decide what is to be governed and how the data is to be collected and deployed and what technologies and skills are to be deployed for implementation. The papers in this collection can be viewed in three groups, respectively, dealing with three issues: data collection processes, intra-urban spatial inequities and use of new sensing technologies.

Selective Inclusions and Exclusions

Ratnagiri, a small town on the western coast of Maharashtra, is an important urban settlement in the Konkan region. This article examines the town's uneven spatial and economic development by focusing on the fishing and tourism sectors, highlighting the historically generated and socially produced contradictions and contestations within and between them. It argues that the very instruments of spatial planning meant to address uneven development end up reinforcing and exacerbating existing spatio-social and political inequalities. It goes on to trace the processes by which spatial planning becomes an arena where regulations are bent and flouted by directly influencing local and state-level actors through a negotiated approach to planning.

Rethinking Governance of Public Toilets

Based on an audit of public toilets in Hyderabad, this article argues that public-private partnership projects seem to have compounded the problems of inequitable spatial distribution and inefficient operation of toilets. They have also failed to address the problem of lack of facilities for women and differently-abled people. With the Swacch Bharat Mission, the way forward must involve a careful rethinking of public toilet governance, including revision of planning norms, providing statutory backing to these norms, and creating effective regulatory institutions. This is essential to alleviate the intensifying everyday contestations between those who desire a "clean city" and those who are forced to defecate in the open.

Mapping the Coastal Commons

Multiple, overlapping logics of urbanisation are transforming Tamil Nadu's coast. Real estate, infrastructure, tourism, and urban beautification plans are putting unprecedented pressure on the coastal commons. Fisherfolk, whose everyday life and survival is rooted in the commons, are at the centre of these processes of coastal urbanisation. Faced with the prospect of losing access to these spaces, fisherfolk are drawing upon their customary knowledge and new satellite mapping techniques to assert their rights to land and livelihoods.

Analysing Urban Growth Boundary Effects on the City of Bengaluru

Bengaluru is encircled by a green belt, instituted as an urban growth boundary to contain sprawl, ensure equitable growth, and preserve lung spaces. Urban growth boundaries the world over are typically known to drive land prices higher in the inner city area by artificially limiting the supply of land. Bengaluru has witnessed significant increases in land prices over the last decade. This paper examines whether the green belt in Bengaluru has had a significant effect on land prices through an analysis of price differentials inside and outside the growth boundaries. It also debates the relevance of a green belt as an urban containment tool in regimes characterised by ineffective provision of infrastructure and lax implementation of zoning regulations.

Delusory Transformations

Many policy experts have pointed out that the lack of capacity in urban local bodies resulted in poor implementation of projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. This paper presents findings from case studies of two transport infrastructure projects in Dehradun city to demonstrate that the reasons for the unexpected outcomes were of a more complex nature. Instead of local governments, all proposals were drawn up by consultants operating under unrealistic deadlines. Project proposals were prepared with an excessive focus on target expenditure and infrastructure creation. The paper emphasises that implementing such programmes requires an effective institutional design that bridges the gap between local governments in small cities and grant-making agencies at higher levels.

Patterns and Practices of Spatial Transformation in Non-Metros

Urban transformation in Tiruchengode town in Tamil Nadu has been predominantly driven by processes internal to it. It has been driven by growth of the town's economy and the practice of entrepreneurs investing in land for capital accumulation. The process described in this paper reinforces the theories of subaltern urbanisation and in situ urbanisation. While the role of the town's entrepreneurs, local landowners, and politics have been significant factors in shaping the evolution and development of its economy, the transformation story has also been shaped by supra-local flows of capital and labour from the region.

The Politics of Classification and the Complexity of Governance in Census Towns

Spontaneous urbanisation through the transfer of capital from the agricultural sector to the commercial sector has given rise to a large number of census towns in West Bengal. These settlements are cases of denied urbanisation, where the territory takes an urban shape but infrastructure and services remain poor under rural local governments that lack resources. Some of these towns retain their census town status for decades, and basic services are neglected until they achieve urban status. Based on empirical research carried out in Singur, a census town in West Bengal, this paper looks at the nature of urbanisation in these towns and tries to trace the role of politics in controlling access to urban status. It also explores the complexity of governance in census towns and surrounding urban areas.

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