Ru­ral devel­op­ment not ig­nored

MAS­TER PLAN 2021 PUTS SHORT­AGE OF DWELLING UNITS IN DELHI AT 24 LAKH BACK­LOG OF UNITS IS 4 LAKH UNITS AND 20 LAKH UNITS ARE RE­QUIRED TO AC­COM­MO­DATE THE PRO­JECTED POP­U­LA­TION 50% TO 55% UNITS WILL HAVE TO BE IN THE LIG SEG­MENT

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ur­ban­i­sa­tion. Delhi is now about onethird ur­banised, which is al­most 32% to Gu­jarat’s 42%. The per­cep­tion that In­dia lives in vil­lages and that elec­tions are won on ru­ral votes is now chang­ing be­cause the ur­ban pop­u­la­tion is now ac­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing in the elec­tions. Hence, the fo­cus on city at­tributes such as hous­ing, solid waste man­age­ment, drink­ing wa­ter, trans­port and en­ergy con­ser­va­tion. Po­lit­i­cal par­ties are recog­nis­ing this ur­ban phe­nom­e­non,” says Amit Bhatt, strat­egy head, EM­BARQ In­dia.

What then should the com­mon man, the cit­i­zen of Delhi, make of th­ese prom­ises? Ac­cord­ing to G Ramesh, chair­per­son, Cen­tre for Public Pol­icy, IIM Ban­ga­lore, ear­lier most man­i­festos would talk about ru­ral up­lift­ment and devel­op­ment of slums. To­day, the thrust is on look­ing be­yond slums. To know why this evo­lu­tion has taken place, one must un­der­tand that th­ese doc­u­ments are mostly as­pi­ra­tional and re­flect the next stage of devel­op­ment, the next level of as­pi­ra­tion. To cite an ex­am­ple, they prom­ise a slum dweller a pucca house and those with a pucca house bet­ter hous­ing and in­fra­struc­ture fa­cil­i­ties. While a smart city may ap­peal to the peo­ple of Delhi and Gu­jarat, the plank may not ap­peal to peo­ple from back­ward ar­eas.

Man­i­festos have not com­pletely stopped fo­cussing on t he is­sue of hous­ing for the poor. Amitabh Be­har, na­tional cam­paign con­veyor of WadaNaTodo Ab­hiyan In­dia, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that has brought out a peo­ple’s man­i­festo, is of the opin­ion that they do ad­dress is­sues of land ti­tles, the ques­tion of homestead (The dwelling house and its ad­join­ing land where a fam­ily re­sides) land. Of late, sev­eral in­con­sis­ten­cies have been seen in th­ese doc­u­ments.

Indu Prakash Singh of the Indo- Global So­cial Ser­vice So­ci­ety and na­tional con­venor for Na­tional Fo­rum for Hous­ing Rights, says that hous­ing had not been an elec­tion plank for some par­ties un­til re­cently. In one man­i­festo the prom­ise of hous­ing for all seems to be in di­rect con­flict with the con­cept of smart cities. If the gov­ern­ment has to build 2.5 crore houses by 2022, then it has to build 8,500 houses per day for the units to be ready by that time. The em­pha­sis is mis­placed be­cause evic­tion of fam­i­lies is hap­pen­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Hous­ing ought to be linked to liveli­hood and treated as a ba­sic fun­da­men­tal right. Also, the buzz that has ac­com­pa­nied smart cities in the last few months has not been repli­cated for the hous­ing for all cam­paign. The smart cities con­cept seems to be in di­rect con­tra­dic­tion to un­de­vel­oped cities where the poor have no place. Th­ese are en­claves for the rich, the fo­cus should have been on hous­ing for all, Singh adds.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION: JAYANTO

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