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

Urban InfrastructureSubscribe to Urban Infrastructure

Greenfield Development as Tabula Rasa

Greenfield urban development can be seen as an enduring idiom of politics in India, with state initiative from precolonial times to the present day responsible for establishing iconic capital cities such as Jaipur, Kolkata, or Chandigarh. However, a renewed interest in building new cities, variously labelled "smart," "green" or "integrated," is now accompanied by an increasing tendency to instrumentalise the urban in pursuit of economic growth and a competitive drive to attract global financial flows. Situated at the intersection of several recent literatures from speculative urbanism to theorisations of rescaling and bypass, the papers in this special issue foreground the struggles over land that animate debates about these greenfield sites while looking beyond these concerns to question the urban futures they presage. Synthesising the insights from these papers, this essay flags critical issues for the politics of urban development and sketches pathways for future research.

The Politics of Urban Mega-projects in India

Mega infrastructure projects such as industrial parks and special economic zones are increasingly seen as a means to jump-start urban economies in India. This paper contributes to understanding the politics of urban mega-projects by examining the quality of local economic linkages of an information technology park, located in what is popularly referred to as the "IT corridor" in Chennai. Based on a survey of employees in software firms and support services for IT parks along the corridor, the paper maps patterns of employment creation, new consumption and mobility patterns of those employed in the IT parks and implications for the quality of urban development.

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.

Funding Urban Infrastructure: From Government to Markets

This paper argues for a role for newer financial instruments like 'municipal-bonds' for financing urban infrastructure. The paper also argues that for these initiatives to be successful, a thick and efficient secondary market in this segment of the debt market is crucial. It will impart liquidity and create an incentive for individual agents to invest in the muni-bonds.
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