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

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The Insider’s Pondicherry

The unique blend of silence and vibrancy characteristic of Pondicherry is slowly disappearing as locals grapple with rapid development.

Dalal Middlemen and Peri-urbanisation in Nepal

In the rapid urbanisation of Kathmandu Valley’s periphery, the practices and logics of dalal middlemen are fundamental to the uneven transformation of land from agricultural to residential uses. Far more than just mediating urban change for personal profit, this ethnographic portrait of dalals illustrates their active role in producing an emerging peripheral locality through engagement with local demands, a detached state, and the growing interest of private capital.

Dholera

A growing rentier economy is driving urbanisation infrastructure projects in India without distributive linkages with industrialisation. This rentier economy brings within its purview various combinations of policy such as speculative land markets, real estate and other urban infrastructure investments by global and domestic investors, private consultants and developers, interests within the state at various levels, and landowners willing and able to benefit from rentiering. It hinges crucially on ownership of land, and hence on deeply unequal geographies of rent. There is a need to distinguish rent-driven urbanisation infrastructure projects from industrialisation and concomitant job-creation. The peasantry emerges as absolute surplus population irrelevant to this geography of rent, except as an obstacle to growth.

Making of Amaravati

This paper examines Amaravati, the proposed greenfield capital of the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh state, against the backdrop of the rise of urban mega-projects across Asia, and the tendencies towards land speculation they have unleashed in Indian cities. It offers a critique of the land pooling mechanisms as they have played out on the ground in the affected villages. It argues that voluntary land pooling on such a large scale has been made possible through a coordinated use of coercive tactics and legal measures, including the land ordinance of the Government of India, which was re-promulgated three times and provided a credible fallback in the AP government's dealings with farmers. Land pooling also facilitated a regime of co-option with absentee landowners aligning, on caste lines, with the ruling party.

Housing : Viable Foundation

It is interesting that in the current scenario of downturn in almost every sector of the economy, the relatively newly emergent housing sector should exhibit such confidence. All the 29 approved housing finance institutions in the country have shown soaring disbursals, a rise of 39 per cent from Rs 9,000 crore in 1999-2000 to a projected Rs 12,500 crore this year. Partly this is a result of the incentives in the budget in the last two years when housing has been treated as a priority sector. Other policy initiatives include changes in the land ceiling laws, tax concessions and lower interest rates. Equally however, the boom is prompted by the depression in the economy and the falling real estate prices which have made middle class urban housing affordable. Today the cost of a house is four to five times the annual salary of a typical user of housing loans whereas in the past it used to be 14-15 times the salary of a borrower. In this light to suggest that the current housing boom may encourage a rising demand in the depressed construction-related sectors such as steel and cement would be optimistic.
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