Urban India 2012 | Jul - Dec

Submitted by nanda on 14 July 2014 - 3:35pm
Urban Public Space: Exploring the Semantics – Brief Over-view of Models, Theories, Interpretations and Experiential Exponents

SPACE is a prominent element we encounter while addressing any context or in reality any human related spatial experience. Understanding space and its essence is critical to design our public spaces. It becomes imperative to review the literature that has explored urban space and seek answers to certain questions that arise as a result. Is there a definite way to define space? What qualifies as an urban space? What are the parameters that essentially outline a space that adores a public function in an urban context? Space has been defined time and again with various perspectives, viewpoints or experiences in an urban scenario; if all these fragments can be culminated and reviewed then a wholesome understanding of urban space and its meaning can be achieved. This paper attempts at looking at some of the definitions of urban space with the objective of understanding the varied viewpoints and compiling an overview of the semantics of urban space under specific parameters as proposed by its proponents and conclusive inferences from these theories and models.

Dakshayini R Patil and Mamatha P Raj
Energy efficiency in Urban Local Bodies in India

Enhancing energy efficiency is a key requirement for saving energy costs and for adapting and mitigating climate change. Urban local bodies (ULBs) in India consume a great deal of energy and there is an urgent need for these ULBs to formulate and implement strategies for enhancing energy efficiency. Government of India and Bureau of Energy Efficiency have developed framework for creating enabling environment for ULBs to adapt these strategies. However, there is not much awareness among the ULBs regarding this framework and the process. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of enabling framework for energy efficiency in ULBs, identifies key issues and suggests the way forward.

A. Narender
Financing Urban Infrastructure in India: A Review

In most Indian cities, the problem of financing of urban infrastructure is acute and most of the challenges of financing are still unanswered.  The condition is worse for the urban governance where many of the urban local bodies are heavily dependent on the higher tier of government in the shape of grants.  The chronic fiscal ill health owing to continuous huge revenue deficit has hamstrung the functioning of the local governance resulting poor performance of civic services and infrastructure.  The high rate of urbanization coupled with industrialization and economic development is exerting significant additional pressure on civic services and infrastructure across cities in India. In order to meet these growing challenges, the present scenario of the urban infrastructure financing needs overall reforms.  The recent past has seen increased attention being given by the Central and State Governments to improve the delivery level of municipal civic services and infrastructure by providing adequate funds and financial support in their plan, policies, and programmes etc.  The main purpose of this research article is to undertake a review of infrastructural finances in India and suggest possible way outs to make the urban local bodies with efficient and improved services and infrastructure. The reforms suggested by 12th and 13th Central Finance Commissions, JnNURM, 74th CAA, HPEC, etc are considered in the paper.  All these can collectively equip urban local bodies better for averting risk in the face of rapid urbanization and urban growth.

Satpal Singh
Urban Poverty Alleviation through Service Delivery: Fund-Based Approach to Finance Urban Services for the Poor in India

With the rising levels of urbanisation, urban poverty is increasingly becoming an important challenge faced by Indian cities. Poverty alleviation programmes are traditionally implemented by the State governments with or without external/ donor assistance and are aimed at providing either income or employment or both to the poor. The 74th Constitutional Amendment has made urban poverty alleviation as an item on Urban Local Government (ULG) list, thereby making them to be responsible for undertaking some steps towards it (but also adding to the burden by not providing corresponding funding mandate).  Cities continue to approach poverty alleviation in different ways.  An important approach to be taken towards addressing urban poverty is to deploy financial intermediation approaches by establishing special Fund to address it efficiently and in a targeted manner. The experiences of some existing models suggest that it is possible to use finance flows wisely through constitution of specialized Funds for this purpose.  This paper argues the need for taking this approach after discussing some existing Fund-based models; the relevance of these approaches to provide Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) in India is also discussed.  The paper also provides a broad framework for setting up an exclusive BSUP Fund to finance the provision of basic services to the urban poor through various channels.

Ramakrishna Nallathiga
Case Study: Delhi Bus rapid Transit – Critical Review of a Mass Rapid Transit Project

Booming economy, increased urbanization and intra-city trips have necessitated mass-rapid projects in the developing world. The  Indian capital has recently embarked on the process of laying out transit projects like the Delhi Metro, Delhi Bus Rapid Transit, etc. The latter has attracted considerable attention, debate and litigation. While the issue has largely been confined to Bus vs Car argument, there has been limited discourse on the selection of public transport mode. This paper takes an empirical view of the situation and establishes how Delhi Bus Rapid Transit falls short on various techno-economic parameters.

Shilpi Mittal
Urban Reforms under JNNURM: Contradictions and Contestations in a Restricted Land Market in Shillong

This paper attempts to locate embedded contradictions in the traditional land tenure system in Shillong and how they operate under the new developmental logic of urban reforms envisaged under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The first section attempts to offer a critique of the reforms in terms of their feasibility in a Sixth Schedule area where the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act does not apply and where the land tenure system and local governance are defined by traditional laws. Thus, while the reforms in such spaces become at best, a cosmetic expendable against the more lucrative financial package largely favouring the landed elite, the localisms in urban land-politics of the city subtly challenge the homogenising drives of post-liberal urban developmental schemes. With this background, the second section uses relevant longitudinal data from Urban Local Bodies to bring into focus the gaps in urban data, especially relating to building activity. This has been explained as an associated fall-out of an un-codified system of land transaction, which may typically assail a restricted land-market and which often goes unnoticed or is not projected in the post-liberalised developmental imagination of such spaces. The third section focuses on certain aspects of housing and the overall built environment, attempting to show how it has shifted in favour of the upper income groups. 

Nabanita Kanungo