Opinion


Land vs. housing: how effective are tenurial measures to house the urban poor?

By on June 16th 2021

Access to land in Indian cities is a major challenge for the urban poor due to the complexity of land tenure, scarcity of land, speculative land prices, and lack of political will. As a result, a majority of them are forced to live in informal settlements without having secure tenure, facing continuous threats of eviction and demolition, which puts them in an unending vicious cycle of poverty. Creation of new housing stock under different housing schemes has been the dominant strategy to address the housing shortage, but remains ineffectual on account of being a time consuming and capital intensive process. The other way to address the problem was to regularize and upgrade the existing housing stock occupied by poor groups. Over the years, state governments have introduced various tenurial measures to address this conundrum of housing and land. This article attempts a nuanced understanding of the effectiveness of these tenurial measures in augmenting and improving the urban poor housing scenario.

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The Model Tenancy Act, 2021: Falling short in catalysing the housing rental market

By and on June 8th 2021

The Union Cabinet on June 2nd 2021 approved the Model Tenancy Act, 2021 (“MTA”) for circulation to all the States and Union Territories. This piece examines whether the MTA delivers in letter what it intends to achieve in spirit, especially at a time when the importance of rental housing markets has been explicitly recognised as a key component of affordable housing policy, with the introduction of the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) scheme in May 2020. It finds that the MTA, while a good first step, has many shortcomings that will inhibit the achievement of its objectives.

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Roti, Kapda, but what about Makaan?

By and on May 18th 2021

As State Governments have started announcing weekend curfews and lockdown-like conditions amidst the second wave of COVID-19, rent crises are once again emerging within informal rental housing markets. In a crisis, rent does not get as much attention as food and income support, despite forming a substantial part of household budgets for informal workers. It is imperative that we learn lessons from last year’s crisis and protect the rental housing of informal workers early, effectively, and expansively.

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Impact of resettlement in the Kathputli Colony transit camp

By and on May 4th 2021

Drawing on over a decade of research on the Kathputli Colony in Delhi, this two-part series focuses on the complex processes involved in the in-situ rehabilitation of squatter settlements. While the first part focused on the differentiated nature of the resettlement processes, this second piece focuses on the transit camp, examining the multidimensional impact on the residents who are endlessly awaiting their final rehabilitation.

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Transient and differentiated resettlement: The case of Kathputli Colony, Delhi

By and on April 27th 2021

Drawing on over a decade of research on the Kathputli Colony in Delhi, this two-part series focuses on the complex processes involved in the in-situ rehabilitation of squatter settlements. This first part explains the differentiated nature of the resettlement processes. This involves exclusions caused by stringent eligibility requirements, opaque enumeration processes and delays in project implementation. Additionally, an unclear legal status has kept households in a continuing state of uncertainty.

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Regularising Unauthorised Colonies in Delhi: Well-Intended but Not Enough

By , and on April 13th 2021

A recent regularisation scheme promises to improve the tenure security of about 5 million Delhi residents. But how inclusive is the scheme and does it keep pace with the realities on the ground? Sukrit Nagpal, Smriti Singh and Sonal Sharma from SEWA Bharat take a critical look.

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‘I Don’t Have the Option to Rent a House’: How Migrant Workers Differ From the Urban Poor

By on April 6th 2021

While central and state governments have launched several housing policies over the years to promote ownership-based housing for the ‘urban poor’, the housing requirements of migrant workers remain neglected. The sudden announcement of a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020 led to an exodus of migrants from cities due to their inability to pay rents for rooms after losing their jobs. It is thus crucial to understand what housing means to migrants in cities, and how cities can be made more livable for migrant workers. This piece attempts to answer some of these questions through interviews of several migrant workers in the national capital region to understand their experiences and perspectives.

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The role of small promoters in Kolkata’s housing transformation

By on March 23rd 2021

Smaller buildings and stand-alone houses are a prominent category in the urban scape of Kolkata, where real estate has emerged as the one of the primary modes driving the urbanization process. While large residential complexes within and outside the municipal limit have dominated popular imagination due to the speculation involved in acquisition of larger lands for real estate, there has been less attention on single stand-alone buildings that are being converted to vertical housing in last decade or more. This trend has been driven by a combination of factors that include municipal interventions, the increasing desire of middle classes for vertical housing, and an active market for redevelopment of small plots.

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Challenges in the successful delivery of affordable housing: An on-ground perspective

By on March 16th 2021

Providing housing that is safe, affordable, and accessible creates vibrant communities around it and a more secure and just world for all. It also contributes to building resilient cities strong enough to withstand adverse environmental conditions and disasters. The COVID-19 induced pandemic has further put a premium on the importance of putting a roof above one’s head.

However, despite the potential and size of the Indian affordable housing market, not many developers have been able to successfully make a sustainable business case out of it. This article analyses the challenges and opportunities for smaller and local developers to expand their footprint in this market, and outlines a framework for its execution.

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Insights on rental practices in a mature sites and services resettlement site in Chennai

By on March 9th 2021

A major political question for governments around the globe is to determine which form of housing tenure – ownership or rental – would best fit their housing policy agenda. It is now well understood that both forms of tenure need to be taken into consideration as complementary and integral parts of urban housing markets. However, rental housing is not a distinct category, but an umbrella term which covers diverse manifestation of renting a home and various forms of supply. Based on fieldwork conducted in 2019, this piece explores the rental practices in Ambedkar Nagar, a 1990s sites and services scheme in Chennai, India in the context of recent changes in rental legislation in the state of Tamil Nadu where Chennai is located.

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