Opinion


Visual storytelling as evidence: How the Missing Basti Project is helping us talk about housing evictions in Delhi

By on July 22nd 2021

The poor in India’s cities have endured evictions and demolitions of their homes and settlements for decades now. While long legal and political battles have sometimes resulted in a modicum of justice through rehabilitation of affected households, demolitions themselves are irreversible acts that forever destroy a settlement and transform the area. initiatives like the Missing Basti Project (MBP) seek to document these erasures by utilising the power of the Internet to create an archive of material memory.

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Why are the struggles of India’s urban poor fragmented?

By on July 13th 2021

India witnesses a massive crisis in housing with 95.62% (2012) of this shortfall felt by economically weaker sections and low income groups. Yet we do not see these groups mobilising together to force the government to respond to their needs. In cities such as Mumbai where the majority of the population lives in poor housing, we still do not see a mass mobilisation or social movement to push the government into action. Why don’t the urban poor come together when social movements have proved effective in enabling change in policies? This piece answers this question, drawing from a longitudinal ethnography of struggles for rehabilitation housing in Bangalore.

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Landlord-tenant dynamism in Kapashera urban village, Delhi

By and on July 6th 2021

While the power of asset-owning landlords in rural India is well-understood, less attention has been paid to the same in urban areas. Examining Kapashera, a low-middle income settlement in Delhi, this article outlines the housing typologies and dynamism in landlord-tenant relations that relegated working class migrants to exploitative housing experiences.

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Why the Haryana Govt Must Not Evict One Lakh Residents of Khori Gaon

By and on June 29th 2021

On June 7, Supreme Court reiterated its order of February and April 2020 to evict the Khori Gaon basti on the Delhi-Haryana border, falling within the Faridabad Municipal Corporation (FMC) jurisdiction. The Court concluded that this basti is an encroachment on the Aravalli forest land and so deemed it fit to order the municipal corporation to undertake evictions using force if needed. The residents have been given a few days to collect their belongings and leave before the demolition squad comes to vacate these lands. The demolitions of over 6,500 homes are scheduled to take place just when the monsoon arrives and we are still in a pandemic where most of the population is not vaccinated. This is great injustice to bring upon anyone during a pandemic. The urgency shown in demolishing the houses of the poor is therefore unjustified.

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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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