Cities are a hub of people’s mobilities, cultures, histories, religions, languages, practices of food and economic activities. The making and unmaking of city-spaces is an ongoing phenomenon that is defined through a continuum of various historical, socioeconomic and cultural processes. These processes tell us a tale of how cities at times integrate and sometimes ostracise people and communities into different spaces. Why some city spaces become inclusive and some exclusive and how it characterises the journey of a city and its people through infrastructural advances as well as mobilities from within and outside the city. In this piece, I tie together historical trends with fieldwork done in Aurangabad during 2019 to briefly trace the evolution of housing and spatial segregation in the city.
The city of Aurangabad has retained an important position in history since the 15th century. First made into a capital by Malik Amber, the city was renamed Aurangabad by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who made it the capital of his Deccan empire. Aurangabad retained its unique cultural and economic influence despite being under the Nizam’s rule, even when they shifted the capital to Hyderabad. With the merger of the princely state of Hyderabad into the Indian Union in 1948 and Aurangabad was added to the Bombay state in 1956 and later found itself within the territory of the newly formed state of Maharashtra in 1960. Industrialisation in Aurangabad started with the initiation of cotton mills opened here during the 19th century under colonial British rule. The postcolonial city of Aurangabad retained its industrial character with a new fervour as new industries were built here during the 1980s. The contemporary city of Aurangabad is an important industrial centre in the Marathwada region and a melting-pot of languages, cultures, and economic activities.
Planning and development context
The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has acted as a developmental authority for the creation of a new city since its inception in 1970. Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) is responsible for setting up industrial areas in different parts of Maharashtra. The city limits of Aurangabad expanded with each development plan approved in 1975, 1982 and 2012 respectively. The establishment of the CIDCO as a Special Planning Authority (SPA) pushed the development of New Aurangabad. With it, a large new population settled in the industrial areas of the city. The MIDC Waluj and Chikalthana Industrial areas were established during the 1970s and located on the peripheries of the old city which stretched the expanse of the city-limits during the decade of 1980- 90.
Figure 1 & 2: N2, CIDCO Area and Billboard showing layout as one enters Waluj MIDC area. (Click on images to enlarge.)
Housing in Aurangabad varies across typologies, comprising old city neighbourhoods, urban villages, slums, unauthorised colonies (gunthewaris) to planned housing settlements. The planned housing sector has been developed by public agencies such as CIDCO and MIDC, private builders and cooperative housing societies which also includes employer housing by industrial entities. A government official and a resident of Aurangabad explained to me how after the development plan was prepared in 1969 and approved in 1975, the decade of 1980s defined the trajectory of Aurangabad as a ‘modern industrial city’. He also said that apartment/flat systems became popular only after the 1990s. The typologies of housing and built-form also started to change with new projects taking off and new migrants arriving in the city. As the old city started to become congested, people also shifted to new areas of the city where better affordable housing options were available.
Figure 3 & 4: Old city of Aurangabad. (Click on images to enlarge.)
Figure 5 & 6: New apartment buildings in Harsul and Jalna road towards Mukundwadi. (Click on images to enlarge.)
In the late 2000s, with the Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project (DMIC), Shendra and Bidkin have become two important industrial clusters in the periphery of the city. AURIC (Aurangabad Industrial City), as mentioned on its website as India’s first well-planned and Greenfield Smart Industrial City, is an industrial township established as part of DMIC by MIDC, has also stretched the limits of the city as the expansion continues. The peripheral areas of Mukundwadi, Nakshtrawadi, Harsul, and Beed-Bypass areas are becoming go-to places for people looking for affordable housing in proximity to the old city and industrial areas.
Figure 7 & 8: Built-up maps of Aurangabad Metropolitan Region – Year 2015 and 1975. (Click on images to enlarge.)
(Created by Shamindra Nath Roy using Global Human Settlements Dataset)
Histories and logics of segregation
Alongside the massive growth of the city especially after the 1980s, polarization between various communities also intrinsically flared up. The segregation of the residential spaces in Aurangabad is so remarkable that boundaries are imprinted with symbols that are identified with particular communities. In the spaces where Muslims are concentrated those spaces are called ‘Harri patti ilaka’ (Green belt areas) and spaces where residents belonging to SC (Scheduled Castes) community live these areas are marked as ‘Neeli Patti ilaka’ (Blue belt areas). For other residents who mostly belong to the Maratha Hindu community these areas are called ‘Bhagwa Patti ilaka’ (Saffron-belt areas).
The 1988 riots further pushed the city population away from the core into the Gunthewaris and unauthorised colonies on the periphery. A series of tumultuous political events and related riots in the decade of 1980s continued to push the spatial division of the city. The formation of 13 settlements developed by CIDCO also known as New Aurangabad was built on a small-scale of about 12 square kilometres. These settlements were not enough to cater to the rising demand of housing in the city. The CIDCO projects received active support from the Shiv Sena party and came to be known as the Saffron-belt area. This pushed away Muslim residents from accessing housing here. Simultaneously, the lack of affordable housing in the city pushed poor income groups to acquire housing in Gunthewaris. This resulted in the segregation of various communities living in the city on the basis of religion, caste, and income.
This clustering and ‘border’ marking is a phenomenon that has been observed in many cities where violence has redefined the geographies of the city. For Muslims in Aurangabad, during my fieldwork, I came across this trope of ‘safety’ from violence, which is the main concern of Muslim residents while looking for housing in the city. This has been reflected in other studies done across many cities also. This has resulted in clustering of Muslims together and also the ‘flight’ of residents belonging to other communities as the space becomes predominantly concentrated with the population of one community. In the locality known as Ganesh colony in the old city of Aurangabad, the character of the locality changed over a period of time as Hindu residents who were residing here started shifting to other areas, as it predominantly became concentrated with Muslim residents.
The fear of violence and clustering of Muslims in urban spaces pushed the community into a vulnerable situation as they cluster together in a particular space segregated from other communities. For instance, Juhapura in Ahmedabad, Jamia Nagar in Delhi and Mumbra in Mumbai are a few instances where segregation has resulted in creation of these Muslim clusters in the cities. In Aurangabad, aside from incessant incidents of violence, the residential segregation of Muslims and SCs is mainly due to housing discrimination, clustering and bordering practices that pushes them into segregated spaces of the city. The poor among them are particularly affected as they are pushed into slums and inadequate housing owing to affordability constraints.
In the Muslim concentrated areas, where housing typologies and facilities are better, the property rates are also high. This has resulted in creation of enclaves within these community clusters, with areas that have better infrastructural facilities becoming expensive for low-income groups. This dynamic has also been studied in many Muslim concentrated space in other cities of Aligarh and Ahmedabad. During my fieldwork in Aurangabad, in the Muslim concentrated spaces in the city, I found this dynamic very visible both in terms of the spatiality and through the narratives I heard. In the old city of Aurangabad within Muslim concentrated localities, many colonies exist side-by-side but with a clear separation of space which becomes apparent as the form and typology of housing changes in each colony. For instance, this becomes apparent in the colonies of Arif, Dilras, and Bismillah. In the cooperative housing societies named Arif and Dilras, the property rates are higher as the plots are built in a planned manner, and the colony appears spacious with well-maintained streets. In contrast, Bismillah colony and other spaces where Muslims belonging to poor-income or middle class sections live in the old city are poorly maintained and unplanned. Neighbourhoods like Arif colony are also in high demand and value among Muslims because they are considered the ‘safest’ areas among the spaces where Muslims live in the city.
Figure 9 & 10: Billboard showing the layout of Arif colony and street-view of Dilras colony. (Click on images to enlarge.)
Experiences of discrimination
Muslim residents who are looking for housing options outside Muslim spaces face denial and discrimination because of religion and food practices. A contractor based in Aurangabad told me, “Builders also try to get clients from the same community. Builder thinks and his intention sometimes is to get the same clients from one community so as to get full bookings of the vacant flats. Getting a mixed community clientele can affect demand”. The rationale is to get the clients from one community so that the rates or vacancy of the project doesn’t get affected. He further said, “Sometimes even a Muslim builder will not give a house to a Muslim client because of the same issues. They say that they are here for business.” This matched the narratives I heard from earlier fieldwork done in Mumbai during 2018-19 as part of Housing Discrimination Project, where I came across brokers who told me similar stories of not giving houses to Muslims as it affects the demand and prices of the apartments. Even the Muslims who can afford high-income housing in the city have been denied housing. In an interview with a resident, he told me that “In Bassaiye Nagar (located in Central Aurangabad), one of the areas where mostly high-profile people had bought houses, Muslim clients were not given houses even though they were high-end customers. It happened some 10-12 years before and the builder was not giving houses to Muslims.” This discrimination pushes even the high-income group of Muslims who can afford houses in the private housing market to access houses in areas where Muslims live predominantly, thus clustering them together, resulting in residential segregation of Muslims in the city. The poor-income groups of Muslims are pushed to inadequate and congested housing options as they are not left with other viable options in the city.
Figure 11 & 12: A view of streets and buildings inside Naregaon, a peripheral neighbourhood where poor can afford housing and Jai Bhim Nagar, a SC concentrated Basti in Old City area located in proximity to Muslim concentrated areas. (Click on images to enlarge.)
Poor Muslim residents and new arrivals in this city face a double barrier while accessing housing options. One is the restriction of housing choices in the city due to segregation and discrimination, the other is the income barrier which has made better housing options in the city unaffordable for Muslims belonging to low-income groups. The housing spaces inhabited by Muslims in the city which can be considered adequate and affordable become only accessible to middle to high-income Muslim individuals. The housing demand from Muslims in these particular areas is also high as a result of these dynamics which makes it a hard-struggle for Muslims to find housing in the city. This further pushes poor Muslims into the fringe areas where living conditions and infrastructural facilities are not good.
As a result of segregated development in the city, a significant number of Muslims and SC population reside in inadequate housing and slums of Aurangabad city. Most of the Muslim and SC population in the inner-city of Aurangabad also live in the proximate neighbourhoods. The state institutions have also not been able to provide equitable, inclusive and adequate housing especially for low-income groups in the city. This has resulted in poor Muslims on the receiving end of discrimination and income-barrier, building their houses and lives either in the ‘slums’ or the newly built peripheral areas of the city like Naregaon where they are able to afford and build houses/homes incrementally for themselves. This has not only resulted in vulnerability and precarity, but created another level of spatial segregation and urban inequality.