Friday, 24 December 2010

Slums, cities and the web of development -3: Ghettos of Development

Slums, cities and the web of development -3
"... because there was no room"
3 Ghettos of Development

It is, of course, possible to rehabilitate the people within their homestead at countryside instead of displacing them, for so-called progress and development in the name of “common good”. Is it possible to rehabilitate the people who are marginalized due to natural calamity or human intervention? It is possible to rehabilitate them with dignity.

Under certain town planning acts the land holdings are reconstituted within city limits, for example by declaring town-planning schemes. Twenty-five years ago Vadodara City took care of all, particularly the small landholders that they do not loose their land while acquisition of land for public and social services for paltry sum of compensation.

Reconstitute Regional Land Holdings

Why then, should it not be possible to reconstitute the land holdings at the regional level while acquiring land for the development projects from where the people are displaced, or where the land acquired by paying cash compensations, and perhaps a promise of jobs in future, while creating the “ghettos of development” in the rural areas?
What is the value of cash compensation in the spiralling inflation and falling rupee value? Instead the local people affected by the development projects are treated as second-class citizens.
Is the administrative machinery ready and prepared to work hard for this job?

Compensation for the Acquired Land 

What is the basis of cash compensation for the acquired land?
Is it the current land price in the locality?
Is it based on the comparison with land value in the cities and metropolitan cities?
But don’t, however, cities, depend on the resources of the regions – at times from remote and distant areas for their sustenance?
Is the compensation based on the future inflated land value when the project becomes operative?
Is it based on the disparity of living standards of the urban elite and rural poor?
Or is the disparity in the literacy level and consumption level of both — those who acquire the land with the help of instrument of law and those from the land is taken — is a measure of cash compensation?
Or is it based on a theory that the people that depended on the very piece of land for ten thousand – or more – years, generation after generation, and will be deprived of the very resource – the land – for the posterity?
In what way the life of the people around the “Ghettos of Development” in the name of common good, in the areas of education and schooling, job and vocations, economic conditions, and services – post, transport, water supply, health…?
Until now they had depended on the soil for their sustenance while feudal lords, kings, rulers and emperors – Ashoka or Aurangzeb – came and vanished. And now in the independent India the ruling minority have taken their role? 

Who should get the rights to develop the waste lands in the country? It is worth a study. Perhaps only those who have strings and pull in their hand in the corridors of power could get the hold of wasteland. Instead, the marginalized and the displaced should have the rights on the waste land, with appropriate aid of technology, training and finance, and rights.

In any case, the present waste lands are the result of monuments and urban development of the glorious past and the ambitious present.    

Replace Slums by Humane Habitat

Is it possible to remove from, or rather replace slums by creating humane habitat in the cities and towns in India, and to some extent? Yes, if the people are given a fair deal in the development projects, out side of urban area, in the cases of public and private sector projects, including the areas brought under urbanization such as New Bombay built by CIDCO (City and Industrial Development Corporation) in Maharashtra State.

Take one of many aspects – the compensation for acquired land, particularly in the rural area. It is not only the owners of the land acquired but also entire affected population of village/s or region must be entitled to receive compensation. All are dependent on the land (and water) as a resource.

The nature and value of compensation and rehabilitation should be worked on the basis of and in the proportion of the total cost of the project, whether the land is acquired for a public or private project, which include mining projects. The total cost should include:

1. The cost of planning, administration, acquisition and arbitration processes from inception to completion stage: e.g. salaries, stationary, establishment, transport, conveyance, consultancy, services such as legal, technical, management, planning etc.
2. The investment incurred in the development, construction and establishment of infrastructure: A. civil works, rod, rail, buildings, machinery etc, and B. Services.
3. Annual compensation in the proportion of annual expenditure, but not of profit (loss) irrespective of subsidies and tax concessions, during the years of operations / life of a project.
4. When the life of a project is over, or its use and its owner is changed (as it happens when the government owned projects are privatized, in recent times,) the land must be restored back to the people.

The major curse of the so-called development projects is the land (and waters) gets degraded – dead – forever, whether the project is a success or failure, runs in profit or loss, or abandoned or changed.

Image: Squatters in Mumbai  

Squatters in Mumbai
Ghettos of Development: An Example 

Raigad had been a Notified Backward District. Proximity of Mumbai, availability of 'cheap' land and labour, and other facilities, hence, many industries found it lucrative for investment.
The environs of Rasayani and other industries here are inhabited by Adivasi Communities and other societies. More than three decades have passed, but the presence of industries have not changed their economic and health conditions for better, or improved literacy or education. On the contrary these industries have polluted the nearby Patalganaga River that affects fish and farming. 
Continued 4 


Author: Remigius de Souza
[Published in the Journal of Indian Institute of Architects, Vol. 61, No. 9,  Dec.1996, p23-25. This is edited version.]
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Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

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