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Messing around with waste

By Poornima Chikarmane and Anjor Bhaskar

Solid waste management accounts for over 50% of overall municipal budgets and manpower, but municipal authorities collect only 50% of the waste and recycle a negligible 5%. Technology and privatisation are the solutions being proposed everywhere. But public-private partnerships are turning out to be more about using public money for private profit. Is integration of informal sector wastepickers into the management of domestic and commercial municipal waste the solution?


Size matters

By R B Bhagat

Size clearly matters in the hierarchy of urban agglomerations. Most programmes including JNNURM are directed at the big cities. Basic civic services including electricity, sanitation and clean drinking water for the poor in small cities and towns are abysmal, and hardly better than rural areas. The widening gap in income levels between rural and urban areas cannot be bridged without developing small cities and towns


Big city, big share

By Sama Khan

The well-planned development of small cities can help disperse rural migration and prevent overcrowding of the metropolitan centres. JNNURM funds can make much more of a difference in these smaller towns. But the bulk of the allocation under JNNURM goes to the three mega cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata


Urban territories, rural governance

By Gopa Samanta

West Bengal has the highest number of census towns among all the Indian states -- with 528 villages reclassified as such in the last decade -- but only 127 urban local bodies. The slow process of municipalisation means that most census towns, especially those with fast-growing industry, mining and commercial enterprises, are urban areas governed by gram panchayats. Such urban territories can become unregulated free-for-alls, with low taxes but haphazard development and poor infrastructure and services


Exclusionary cities: The exodus that wasn’t

By Amitabh Kundu

Yes, the urban population increased more in absolute terms during 2001-11 than rural population. But, no, this is not because distressed agricultural workers are pouring into cities. It’s because census activism has tripled the number of urban centres in Census 2011. In fact, exclusionary policies are discouraging the inflow of rural poor into the mega cities


Slowdown in urban growth

By Debolina Kundu

Population growth in urban India has been decelerating over the last three decades, busting the myth of an urban explosion. Most cities with populations of 100,000-plus have recorded a significant decline in their population growth, more so the million-plus cities, suggesting that they have become less welcoming to migrants. Delhi and Chandigarh recorded less than half the growth rate of the '90s, and Mumbai district has reported a decline in absolute terms during 2001-11


The invisible migrant

By Amita Bhide

The city is harsh terrain for the roughly 100 million circular migrants who move around the country in search of livelihoods. The territoriality of policy renders them invisible, denied access to essential services such as housing, subsidised foodgrain and bank accounts. Urban policy needs to be re-imagined to understand the realities of migrants


The ‘other’ urban India

By Partha Mukhopadhyay

The most vibrant, people-driven process of urbanisation is occurring outside the large metropolises which dominate popular imagination. It is not directed by the state, as in Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, nor developed by the private sector, as in Mundhra or Mithapur. It is the result of decisions about livelihood and residence made by thousands of individuals that coalesce to transform a ‘village’ into a census town


Transition towns

By Kalpana Sharma

The 74th constitutional amendment has on paper devolved power to urban local bodies. But even a cursory look at small towns reveals that elected representatives have little knowledge of their powers or responsibilities, cannot read or frame budgets and fail to generate local resources for planned development. Many of these towns are still transitioning between large village and town, with even basic public services absent, particularly for the poor

Jhunjhunu, where mohalla samitis have worked well


The making of a mini-city

By Marie-Helene Zerah

Market forces, collusion of interest and malpractice are all involved in the growth and ad hoc development of a village into a small industrial town and then into a satellite town of a global city. Nowhere is this more visible than in Dharuhera, 70 km from Delhi


Mending what works

By Bharati Chaturvedi

Waste can be a tool to break poverty when used imaginatively. In Nainital, Haridwar, Nagpur and several other cities, public-private partnerships in solid waste management have displaced the invisible, informal-sector wastepickers and traders instead of nurturing and upgrading them


Urban development in the 12th Plan: Who's in? Who's out

It seems likely that the 12th Plan will also incorporate the same old gendered assumptions that have effectively invisibilised women -- particularly working class women -- from urban policies in India, writes Kalyani Menon-Sen


The ground beneath their feet: Housing rights and resettlement in Delhi

Kalyani Menon-Sen tells the story of resettlement of basti residents in Delhi, a story of grandiose rhetoric in policy documents and diminishing entitlements on the ground

resettlement in Delhi


Decadal journeys: Debt and despair spur urban growth

Census 2011, which reports a higher growth of urban population than rural as millions give up farming, does not record footloose migration, which drives desperate people to search for work in multiple directions with no clear destination. This is a giant drama that we have not even begun to measure, says P Sainath


The exodus from rural India

For the first time since 1921, India's urban population has increased more than the rural. In 1921, influenza left its fatal imprint on the enumeration. The 2011 Census speaks of another tragedy: the collapse of millions of livelihoods in agriculture and related occupations. And the ongoing, despair-driven exodus that this has sparked in the countryside, writes P Sainath


Swept off the map

By Kalpana Sharma

A new book, based on a study of 2,577 households from Yamuna Pushta two years after they had been moved to Bawana in the outskirts of Delhi, documents the devastating impact of urban displacement. The study found that displacement significantly raised both unemployment and dropout rates from schools


A tale of two cities

By Darryl D'Monte

It's London, not Shanghai, that we in India should be emulating. London is emerging as the world's foremost global city


The high-rise hang-up

By Darryl D'Monte

By 2020, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region is estimated to have 28.5 million people, more than even Tokyo. By 2050, it may have as many as 40 million. Unfortunately, Mumbai's architects and urban planners are obsessed with building taller and faster, not with the footprint of cities, or open spaces and partnerships between classes and communities


Turning mill land to mall land

By Darryl D'Monte

The Supreme Court's recent verdict on the sale of mill lands in Mumbai has implications for the future development of all cities in India, and the redevelopment of derelict industrial lands in other cities


McKinsey's Mumbai

By Darryl D'Monte

What happens when top honchos of companies and international consulting firms decide how cities should be managed? You get thousands of crores in public funds spent to meet the needs of 125,000 of Mumbai's motorised elite



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