Posts Tagged ‘Gated community’

Indien: Empowerment der Armen – gute Idee…

Dienstag, April 24th, 2012

“Elite Capture in Participatory Urban Governance

By Debolina Kundu

The responsibility of municipalities to provide crucial services is being increasingly passed on to the resident welfare associations located in middle and upper middle class areas in cities. Similar tools of intervention are absent in the slums and low-income neighbourhoods and even the local ward committees fail to represent their needs and aspirations. The RWAs are trying to sanitise their neighbourhood by attempting to remove encroachments and petty commercial establishments from their “gated” colonies. The very mechanism of the functioning of RWAs is likely to accentuate and institutionalise disparity within urban areas.

In recent years, there has been a sea change in urban governance in the country. The economic liberalisation initiated in the country followed by decentralisation measures adopted by all tiers of the government as an aftermath of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA) has resulted in gradual withdrawal of the State and increasing private sector participation in capital investment and operation and maintenance of urban services. The institutional vacuum thus created has sought to be filled up by the non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Also, the inability of the wards committees, institutionalised through 74th CAA, to usher in decentralised governance has led to the growth of middle class activism through the resident welfare associations (RWAs). The municipal responsibility of provision of services is being increasingly passed on to the RWAs (Smitha 2010). Their involvement has been broadly in areas of operation and management of civic services, capital investment in infrastructural projects, planning and participatory budgeting, and maintenance of neighbourhood security. In fact, efforts have been made to institutionalise them as partners in the development process, through government-led programmes like the Bhagidari in Delhi. The RWAs have been supported not only by the government but also by private agencies and other civil societies. Importantly, their functioning has been restricted largely in the middle income and posh colonies. Correspondingly, the informal settlements, which house the urban poor, are unable to exercise their voice through the same form of activism.

Limited Success

In India, urban development is a state subject, which has resulted in variation in the powers, tasks and membership of the ward committees (WDCs) across states. Also, the provision in the CAA that the state governments are to decide the criteria and procedure of selection of the members of the WDCs has made their very existence and composition a prerogative of the state machinery. There is limited citizen’s participation in planning and implementation at the ward level as these committees have not been constituted properly nor has the CAA clearly spelt out the scope of the functions or their composition. There is also large variation in financial powers of the WDCs across states. Many state governments have remained silent on this issue while some have delegated marginal powers to them (Kundu 2009).

It is noted that WDCs in most of the cities are ineffective in representing the aspirations of the common people. The concept of participation between the people and the local government did not succeed in most cities due to the large size of the constituencies. In many cities they are non-existent and even where they are functioning there is hardly any participation from the citisens at large. WDCs are, thus, non-functional and structurally flawed in most of the metro cities. Further, there is limited participation of both middle and upper class, which led to an alternative system of participatory governance in the form of civil society organisations.

Involving Civil Society Organisations

RWAs are emerging in almost all big cities and are effective as people in a locality or belonging to a group can see their interest being served by these organisations. The participatory model helps the people to get involved to voice their concern by building local pressure groups. RWAs found in middle class areas serve their interests as consumer-citizens. Participation in associational activities is skewed quite heavily towards those with higher levels of education and income (Harriss 2005). Harriss found that in Delhi, the poorer and sometimes also less well educated people are more active in political life, and that poorer people, especially those with some education are more active in solving public problems. He noted that the same is not true of associational activity as there is a strong tendency for wealthier and particularly for more educated people to be involved in associational activity, which questions the notion in the current development discourse that poor people are able to secure effective representation or “empowerment” through participation in associations in civil society.

The NGOs, the government and the private sector are supporting the participatory governance through RWAs in a big way. Asian Centre for Organisation, Research and Development, an NGO, has been assisting the Delhi government with the Bhagidari scheme. A similar involvement is witnessed in Mumbai. Further, the state has in a way sponsored the RWAs. Many state and local governments have signed memoranda of understanding with the RWAs with the latter being accountable to them. In the National Capital Territory of Delhi a majority of the RWAs are registered with Delhi government as their “Bhagidars” (partners) in the Bhagidari or Citizen-Government Partnership Scheme.

The RWAs are required to coordinate with a number of government departments and parastatal and civic agencies to address their day-to-day problems. As an illustration, the RWAs in Delhi need to coordinate with the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to resolve their problems related to drinking water and sanitation. The RWAs also help the DJB to collect water bills, to distribute water through tankers, replace old/leaking pipelines, in water harvesting, etc.

Neighbourhood security is already being maintained by many of the RWAs. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has allowed them to construct gates for security purpose after obtaining necessary clearance from the police, fire department and the MCD itself. Several RWAs have come forward to take up the responsibility of cleaning the roads, maintaining street lights, community parks and roads, and managing community halls as well. The RWAs are trying to sanitise their neighbourhood by trying to remove encroachments and petty commercial establishments from their “gated” colonies. Importantly, in Delhi, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been brought under the participatory framework as the RWAs have joined hands with the authority for prevention of encroachment, maintenance of community parks, other common areas and parking facilities inside the colony. The RWAs are also coordinating with the Delhi Police for crime prevention and regulation of traffic in their respective colonies. In Mumbai too, residents are trying to ward off the unauthorised encroachments from their immediate neighbourhood as a part of the Advance Locality Management Programme. (…)”

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(Quelle: India Environment Portal.)

Indien: Erste “Privat-Stadt” – gegründet auf Unrecht

Dienstag, Mai 25th, 2010

“THE GREAT URBAN JUGGERNAUT

India’s first ‘private city’ will do nothing to help the poor

By Tarsh Thekaekara

‘Lavasa: a beautiful hill city to the south of India’s commercial capital, Mumbai. An answer to overcrowded and congested urban India, with its crumbling infrastructure…’ That, at least, is the theory. Ajit Gulabchand, Chair of the Lavasa Corporation, estimates that India will need 400 new cities in the next 40 years to cope with rapid urbanization. And since the Government cannot cope, the private sector is stepping in with India’s first ‘private city’. In a new twist on poverty eradication, a handful of ‘insignificant’ villages are being razed to the ground to be replaced by a mirage of affluent urban India.

Lavasa is being built along 60 kilometres of lake front, in the pristine Western Ghats – a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot. It has won numerous awards for its ‘new urbanism’ design principles, and has attracted prestigious global partners including Accenture, Deloitte, Microsoft and Oxford University. It envisages a population of about 200,000 with housing – ranging from studio apartments to large villas – meant to be ‘aspirational yet affordable for multiple socio-economic classes’.

The only people unhappy with these developments are the local farmers and adivasis (indigenous people). They allege that the whole project has been a ‘land grab’ by the company, with villagers being pressured into selling their land by Lavasa’s intermediaries. One resident, Gyaneshwar Hegde, was given six cheques totalling 580,000 rupees (about $13,000) for his 45 acres of land. But they all bounced. Similar stories abound. Lavasa made many promises when the construction started, but none were kept. Now, with their land gone, people live a hand-to-mouth existence, depending on the company for erratic casual labour.

The Indian constitution supposedly gives special protection to indigenous people, especially in cases where their land is being threatened. It may be telling, then, that the daughter and son-in-law of agricultural minister Sharad Pawar had large stakes in the Lavasa project.

Building permission was obtained under the pretext of the city being both a tourism project and at an elevation of less than 1,000 metres above sea level, in order to be exempted from central government environmental clearances. Any project above 1,000 metres requires an environmental impact assessment to preserve the integrity of hill areas. But Lavasa is much more than a tourism project, and the entrance is at 1,055 metres. In addition, the lake acts as a catchment area for thousands of people, including marginal farmers living downstream, all of whom are going to be affected by the lower water flow after Lavasa have extracted all the water they need.

Senior environmentalists such as Ashish Kothari (founder of environmental organization Kalpavriksh and on the board of Greenpeace India) have raised concerns about the larger trends of development in the country. ‘Is Lavasa, with its 200,000 population, really going to address the urbanization problem in a country of over a billion people?’ queries Kothari. ‘It’s just not possible to build 400 new cities. The Government should focus on improving infrastructure in rural areas. The international trend of urbanization means a much higher ecological footprint, and is extremely worrying from an environmental perspective. Do homes ranging from “small studio apartments to large villas” really represent the “multiple socio-economic classes” of the country?’

Oxford University has now pulled out of the project, though it refuses to comment on whether this is due to the human rights issues. But the construction continues unabated, as the great Indian urban juggernaut implacably steamrolls every obstacle in its path. Money after all, makes the wheels go round.”

(Quelle: New Internationalist.)

Irak: Eine Stadtmauer für Bagdad

Montag, Mai 17th, 2010

Die irakische Hauptstadt könnte zur ersten vollständig eingeschlossenen ‘gated city’ werden

Die Lage im Irak sieht düster aus. Die US-Soldaten verlassen das Land, politisch geht es nicht voran, es wird weiter um die Folgen des Wahlergebnisses gerungen, Allawi und Maliki kämpfen um die Macht, eine Versöhnung zwischen Schiiten und Sunniten rutscht ebenso wie eine stabile, rechtstaatliche Ordnung in weite Ferne, während die Gewalt schon seit einiger Zeit wieder zunimmt.

Wie al-Dschasira berichtet, soll das irakische Verteidigungsministerium nun planen, was auch das US-Militär gerne praktiziert hat, um unruhige Städte zu befrieden: Angeblich will man um die 5-6-Millionen-Stadt eine Sicherheitsmauer bauen, um Aufständische daran zu hindern, in die Hauptstadt zu gelangen, die wieder zum Ziel von Anschlägen geworden ist.

Das US-Militär hatte mehrere Städte wie Falludscha, Tal Afar oder Samarra mit einem Wall umgeben, um die Bewegung der Menschen zu kontrollieren (Der Bau der neuen Stadtmauern). In Bagdad wurden ebenfalls 3,5 m hohe Mauern und Kontrollpunkte zwischen Stadtvierteln errichtet, um die Gewalt zu beenden. Das aber macht die eingeschlossenen Stadtviertel auch zu ‘gated communities’ oder Gefängnisvierteln. Ein Film bezeichnet Bagdad als Stadt der Mauern.

Bewacht wurden die Kontrollstellen und die Stadtviertel im Irak, aber auch in anderen Städten durch sogenannte Awakening-Gruppen, also letztlich durch (…).”

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(Quelle: Telepolis.)