“An equally important facet of the right to life is the right to livelihood because no person can live without the means of livelihood.” — Excerpt from the unanimous judgement of The Supreme Court of India in Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation.Continue reading “Livelihoods & the COVID-19 Crisis”
bioscope on people and livelihoods in urban india
Nagari 2021 addresses the subject of people and livelihoods in Indian cities in an attempt not only to use film as a medium to narrate the issues, but really to expand an understanding of the subject and extend its representation and relevance.
Film as a medium has played an important role in generating awareness on social issues. This blog lists films that draw parallels to this years’ subject of scrutiny. The list of course is not exhaustive, but is a collection of films – suggestions made by the mentors of Nagari Short Film Competition 2021 and the Charles Correa Foundation.Continue reading “bioscope on people and livelihoods in urban india”
Bioscope on Urban housing in India
Film as a medium has played an important role in generating awareness on social issues. This blog is a list of films that address housing and issues related to housing infrastructure in India. It is not an exhaustive list but a short collection of films available in the public domain.
I am Gurgaon. The new Urban India (2009) – Directed by Marije Meerman
Gurgaon is a satellite city of New Delhi, situated in the neighbouring state of Haryana. Strict controls on ownership and land-use in Delhi, coupled with Gurgaon’s proximity and connectivity to the capital, has led to large global investment.
This film is an insight into the aspirations of Gurgaon’s urban elite and their idea of an ideal lifestyle, particularly that of a ‘dream home’ — one that promises security, exclusivity and portrays a specific social identity among homogeneous members of this strata of society. This aspiration is represented through a distinct architectural typology — the ‘gated community’.
A ‘gated community’ by definition is a housing project that is independent from the rest of the urban grain by a compound wall and gate, with many amenities normally present within a conventional neighbourhood available to residents inside the wall.
Through the film Meerman develops a nuanced narrative on how in a developer-driven urban context, the city of Gurgaon, has favoured infrastructure for a fragment of its society. It highlights how citizens of the same socio-economic strata invest in creating walled residential housing. This form of development has led to vast disparity, where a minority of the society has benefited from opulent living conditions, and at the same time, uninhabitable conditions for the household help, nannies, security, etc.
In this 48 minute film, the director tries to highlight how, privatisation of the city creates unfortunate divides between the private and public domain, this process eradicates the sense of community and inculcates divisions that lead to inequality.
Link here to watch this film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMwceo7nVLY
State of Housing in India (2018) – Directed by Sanjiv Shah
The 40 minute film reviews the current housing crisis in India and makes apparent that a large proportion of India’s population is homeless, displaced, or resides in inadequate housing. It stresses on the major factors that lead to displacement, using statistical data to create a concise, yet comprehensive understanding of the situation.
The ‘State of Housing’ exhibition for which this film was made, was the first major exhibition focused on housing as policy. Through a series of interviews, Shah attempts to shed light on the plight of poor and displaced citizens who migrate to cities to find temporary relief, with a hope for better and more sustainable living conditions.
An interview that touched us is of social activist Manoranjan Byapari, a former Bangladeshi refugee who now resides in Kolkata. Byapari’s perspective of a home is that of ownership, to him living in a flat or living as an immigrant does not quantify a home. A plot of his own — one where the land, people, the environment and culture all connect is one where he can feel secure and safe and call his own.
Shah’s film is interesting because it not only situates the problem, but also presents the work of a few architects, designers and social workers from diverse parts of India, who are working to improve the state of housing in their cities.
Link here to watch this film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IebLg1DQyvs
Stills from the film- Vertical City
Vertical City (2011) – Directed and filmed by Avijit Mukul Kishore
This 34 minute film attempts to provide a visual narrative of an architectural typology which has emerged as the ideal housing model for slum rehabilitation in India.
The narrative is told through the story of a community who find themselves “rehabilitated” from a slum, out to a high rise housing project far away, accompanied by assurances of better living conditions. Most members of this community live in joint families and earn around ₹4,000 a month, they are unable to make ends meet and the infrastructure of the “rehabilitation apartment” begins to deteriorate.
Through interviews, Kishore presents the voices of experts, activists, architects and authorities. Each give their opinion on slum rehabilitation, government policies and the ground reality. There is a specific focus on the apathy of the state, when it comes to providing adequate living conditions to its poor and vulnerable. These voices are narrated as the camera flies over the abysmal living condition in the slum rehabilitation apartments, the infrastructure is incomplete, with dingy corridors, facilities that do not work, unplanned services and a dearth of spaces for social and community interaction.
Stills from the film highlighting the characteristic elements slum rehabilitation housing
Link here to watch this film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nihUKoTA0Mk
WHAT IS THE RIGHT TO ADEQUATE HOUSING?
“Adequate housing was recognized as part of the right to an adequate standard of living in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”1
Housing as a concept is not limited to shelter, or having a roof over your head. And it’s not a matter of affordability either. Housing is one of the most important life components giving shelter, safety and warmth, as well as providing a place to rest with dignity and security. The right to housing adequacy attempts to holistically develop the concept of housing such that it moves beyond the number game of space and affordability to present a list of key elements that need to be considered to make housing adequate.
Adequate housing is universally viewed as one of the most basic human needs. The right to adequate housing is one of the economic, social and cultural rights to have gained increasing attention and promotion, not only from the human rights bodies but also from the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. The United Nations Declaration on Social Progress and Development (1969) and the United Nations Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements (1976) recognize a universal right to adequate housing. The right to adequate housing includes ensuring access to adequate services, extending but not limited to seven important elements: legal security of tenure, availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure, affordability, habitability, accessibility, location and cultural adequacy.
What do these terms mean? Consider “security of tenure”, a major obstacle to ensuring this facet of adequate housing is eviction. “Protection against forced evictions is a key element of the right to adequate housing and is closely linked to security of tenure.”1 According to the 2011 Census, there are 1.77 million homeless people in India which make up around 0.15% of the population. A report published by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), estimates that about 190,000 Indian people get evicted from their homes every year. and as many as 14.9 million face a threat of eviction and displacement. To counter this extreme condition of urbanity, the right to housing adequacy insists that Nations take responsibility to ensure that evictions are only permitted in exceptional circumstances, and adhere to the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, the International policy along with reinforcement through National and State level law and governance intends to provide protection to vulnerable persons and affected groups.
The right to adequate housing attempts to establish the connection between health and dwelling, it recognizes that secure shelter and basic sanitation are essential for living a healthy and stable life. Key elements to recognize housing adequacy include the availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure. “In India it is estimated that 17 percent of the urban population currently has no access to any sanitary facilities at all, while 50–80 percent of wastewater is disposed of without any treatment.”2 Furthermore, a WaterAid report in 2016 ranked India among the worst countries in the world for the number of people without safe water. An estimated 76 million people in India have no access to a safe water supply, and the situation is only getting more serious. The right to adequate housing ensures that housing encompasses sustainable access to natural and common resources, clean drinking water, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, site drainage and emergency services.
Housing has always been closely associated with affordability. The case of India is particularly lacking in this regard. The Urban Housing Shortage (households) in 2012 was 18.78 Million, 56% of this total came from the economically weaker section with a monthly income of up to ₹5000, 40% from the lower income group with a monthly income between ₹5000 to ₹10000 and the remaining 4% comes from the middle income group with a monthly income of above ₹10000. The right to adequate housing establishes the need to develop affordable housing for all income groups by providing the citizens a greater expanse of policies and fiscal benefits to buy/build a house. “The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) that precluded it, are initiatives of the Government of India which aim to provide affordable housing to the urban poor by the year 2022. The RAY scheme was launched in 2011, and amended into the PMAY in 2015. The interest rate for the PMAY scheme starts at an interest subsidy of 6.5 percent on housing loans availed upto a tenure of 15 years”3, these government initiatives attempt to generate positive externalities of consumption through housing. PMAY aims to develop affordable housing in a public-private sector partnership and promote affordable housing for urban poor through credit linked subsidy. However the rollout has faced multiple hurdles. “At this rate, it will take 66 years to achieve a target of 10 million units, 120 years to build 18 million units”.4
Another key component of the right to adequate housing is habitability of housing. According to the WHO, habitable houses should comply with health and safety standards; including providing the inhabitants with adequate space, “protection against cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health and structural hazards.”1 Habitability ensures inhabitants the needed space to live in dignity and peace, as well as protection from natural elements, structural hazards and disease vectors which threaten their physical well-being. Indian habitability standards are developed by respective National and State housing agencies and lack international applicability. The right to adequate housing understands that humans are the direct beneficiary of habitability and that there is a need to evolve habitability standards that reflect the perceptions, expectation, and satisfaction of humans in line with their unique multi-cultural residential landscape.
“Urban inequality is a blight experienced by many cities, even in the developed world. In developing countries like India, these social and economic inequalities become even more pronounced, with living conditions in certain populations crossing the line to the abysmal”5. The Indian society is highly stratified and hierarchical in character. The stratified and hierarchical nature of Indian society involves institutional processes that economically and socially exclude, discriminate, isolate and deprive some groups on the basis of characteristics like caste, ethnicity or religious background. The right to adequate housing promotes the development of housing that is free from discriminatory practices against the disadvantaged or the marginalized. It tries to establish housing as a practice that does not restrict accessibility in any way, shape or form.
The right to adequate housing has an important focus on ‘location’, this not only establishes the need for available employment opportunities, health-care services, schools, childcare centres and other social facilities but also ensures that housing is not displaced in zones of extreme pollution or conflict. According to the National Disaster Management Plan 2019 (NDMP), 68% of India’s land is prone to drought, 60% to earthquakes, 12% to floods and 8% to cyclones, this makesIndia one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, affecting 85% of Indian geography and more than 50 million people. Considering the influence of social, cultural, climatic and economical factors, location becomes a key aspect in determining whether the conditions of adequate housing are being met. Furthermore, the right to adequate housing ensures the expression of cultural identity. Since culture is not a constant, it keeps changing and also accommodates changes. People tend to have changes in their aspirations — and accordingly culture, due to the influence from neighbouring cultures, education, globalisation, economic empowerment or other parameters. The expression of culture and its identity is also enshrined as a key element in determining the adequacy of housing.
“Human rights are interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. In other words, the violation of the right to adequate housing may affect the enjoyment of a wide range of other human rights and vice versa.”1 The World Health Organization has asserted that housing is the single most important environmental factor associated with disease conditions and higher mortality and morbidity rates. Having access to adequate, safe and secure housing substantially strengthens the likelihood of people being able to enjoy certain additional rights. Housing is a foundation from which other legal entitlements can be achieved which makes the right to adequate housing a fundamental right that needs to be recognized and practiced in equal spirits.
- Fact Sheet No. 21/Rev.1, The Right to Adequate Housing, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- Draft National Urban Sanitation Policy, 2007
- business-satndard.com_22May 2017
- Social Marginalisation in Urban India and the Role of the State, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, 2015
- Forced Evictions in India in 2019: An Unrelenting National Crisis, Housing and Land Rights Network, New Delhi, 2020
- Right to Shelter is just a Constitutional Right and not Fundamental Right : Part 1
- Basic Principles And Guidelines On Development Based Evictions And Displacement
CCF CHALLENGE: ILLUSTRATING AVANT-GARDE SUPPLY CHAINS
In order to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19 in India, the government has extended the nationwide lockdown up to 3rd May 2020.
One of the biggest concerns in the country right now is the distribution of food supplies and essential commodities. In Indian cities, with large income inequalities, servicing these huge numbers equitably becomes a logistical impossibility. Last-mile door-to-door services have become essential systems to get supplies to every individual.
With commodities becoming scarce, people of privilege start to hoard, and consequently, prices rise. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy which affects the urban poor the most, many of whom work on a daily wage. This has resulted in a much-documented exodus of migrant workers from their workplace to their villages1. With inter-state movement seized, coupled with the lack of availability of labour — stocks of fresh food supplies are rapidly diminishing. Many local markets lie desolate — potential signs of an acute food shortage.
The lockdown has once again brought to the surface, the gross inequity in Indian cities. Millions of men, women and children are now dependent on the government or charitable trusts for every meal. Raghu Karnad writes in the New Yorker about how this time offers us an opportunity to rethink the way our cities work 2.
This re-imagination of Indian cities has been coming for a long time and has to be addressed on several verticals. One avenue which can be explored is the way the lockdown has prompted ( at least for the upper and middle class in Indian metro cities) the opportunity of new supply chains. The supply of produce that was previously zoned, distributed and procured at the end by consumers is now available every alternate day at one’s doorstep.
SUPPLY CHAINS IN TIMES OF CORONAVIRUS
A temporary market observing social distancing rules at Vasant Oscar, Mulund, Mumbai and pre-packaged vegetable orders (₹700) delivered together at Runwal Greens, Mulund, Mumbai.
Our tryst with COVID-19 has promoted previously unprecedented networks of independent, un-aided, customised supply chains that bind several small scale, last-mile service operations with the large-scale cross border movement of essential commodities.
Last-mile delivery of supplies is not new to our cities. India has had a long-standing system of daily fresh milk delivery. Families have independent relationships with local dairies — milk is delivered as per their required quantity, schedules and choice. In Goa, we have the “poder”, a bread delivery man who goes door to door twice a day delivering fresh bread to every household.
The current lock-down situation has coerced daily commodities like bread, eggs, fruits, vegetables and oil to be delivered in a similar fashion. The mercurial rise of e-commerce and delivery apps like Swiggy and Zomato has now set up systems of local delivery boys, App-based ordering and WhatsApp savvy hawkers. Some enterprising businesses have created supply chains based on orders, locations and timetables, creating a direct link with the customer. The increased logistical demand for this system has given impetus on communities scheduling and acquiring essentials together. , reducing the need to move around within the city.
SUPPLY CHAINS IN SUBURBAN MUMBAI
In this context, let’s discuss the case of Mulund (West) a suburb of Mumbai. Mulund is primarily a residential suburb, on the foothills of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, it is dominated by large housing complexes that house the middle class, shopping complexes, fast food chains and recreational activities. A gridiron plan was designed by architects Crown & Carter in 1922, which extends from present-day Mulund railway station to Paanch Rasta road Junction in Mulund (West), housing the Mulund Market, the suburb is serviced by the Eastern Express Highway.
Due to the lockdown, the suburb has been cut-off from the highway — the supply chain which was previously centralized at the Mulund market has now been decentralised due to the collective efforts of the municipality, local police, retailers, vendors, society secretaries and residents. Internal circulation routes for supply trucks have been set, where every alternate day, residents receive essential supplies at a fixed time right outside their societies. The Mulund market has been declared a pedestrian zone, this decongests the route during essential supply hours. Local hawkers and temporary delivery services from pharmacies, supermarkets and grocery stores enable greater penetration of the supply chain. Moreover, these services enable the restriction of procurement-based mobility with great ease whilst maintaining social distancing. The police barricading combined with the efficiency of supply completely quarantined all mobility within smaller zones, and, till now, has succeeded in restricting the spread of the pandemic whilst producing avant-garde supply chains.
The following illustrations present new emerging delivery networks in Mulund, Mumbai. The red line illustrates the traditional method of procurement, propagating individual mobility, whereas the green line denotes the services that now coordinate the supply of essentials, focusing on groups of people based on their location.
Not so long ago, the world was looking into the possibility of drone deliveries, these systems require greater expenditure in the form of capital than of labour. The ease of access and fast, high precision delivery service shall definitely create an entirely new ethos of supply chains for essential products, health care emergencies, war-zones and remote locations.
Holistically speaking, when it comes to the contextual cases of third world metropolises like Mumbai, we can learn a lot from these avant-garde adaptations our supply chains have made. The patterns observed under the current COVID-19 lockdown suggest that zonal iterations to our current supply chains with local integration of distribution shall serve to present a great model even post the pandemic has eclipsed.
The avant-garde supply chains produced as a byproduct of COVID-19 illustrate the evolution of supply chains as a naturally decentralised model within the developing world.
THE CCF CHALLENGE:
We want to understand the supply chain in your neighbourhood. We challenge individuals to map:
- ‘New’ Supply chains that have emerged in their immediate surroundings.
- Your vision of the ‘Future Normal’ in commodity supply.
You can use any medium to represent — write, photograph, sketch, video, render or simply doodle! It would be great if you could accompany the mapping project with a brief write up that explains the context, your observations and predictions explaining the emergence of these avant-garde supply chains.
Use the hashtag #CCFSupplyChallenge and tag us @charlescorreafoundation on Instagram. We shall feature and discuss unique observations on our social media pages and website.
1. Article on the problems faced by migrant labourers by Sahil Joshi for India Today:
21 Days of Solitude
A list of recommended readings from the CCF library to help you get through the lockdown.
’21 DAYS OF SOLITUDE’ is a project focusing on our present sequestration, and reflecting on our dependence on public space in urban areas. Undertaken by the Charles Correa Foundation Fellows to engage interests in the writings of urbanists, we are focusing on writings that we are familiar with — writings that cover a broad spectrum of topics like public space in cities, building urban communities and urban planning, spatial narratives, memoirs, architecture and visual theory, to whet your interest and concern, and to stimulate discussion.
Pandemics and Urban Planning
“Analysis of Google Trends data shows that in the past one month, the search term ‘coronavirus’ was explored most frequently by people in Goa (more than any state in India). On Google Trends, Goa had a score of 100, which means that the percentage of people searching for information on the virus through Google was the highest in the country.”1
Goa is an interesting case — while being India’s smallest State, “populated by approximately 1.5 million people; it receives almost 8 million visitors annually”.3 According to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Goa is also India’s most Urbanised State!
The countermeasures adopted began with an advisory from the Union health ministry, suggesting a postponement of all mass functions, including seminars and conferences, followed by the closure of all educational institutions including schools, colleges as well as casinos, spas, gymnasiums, swimming pools, cinema halls and pubs by the State Government followed by a nationwide curfew on 22nd of march declared by the Prime Minister and as of the midnight of 24th March, India has announced a 21-day lock-down to check the on-going spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID – 19).
As India prepares its arsenal to combat Coronavirus, we look at the history of cities and the deeply rooted connection between urban planning and epidemics/pandemics.
The truth is that the developments in our urban infrastructure and planning are direct results of pandemics. Ian Klaus (2020) says that “Modern planning and civil engineering were born out of the mid-19th century development of sanitation in response to the spread of malaria and cholera in cities.”4 Conversely, public health officials have been an integral part of upgrading our cities.
In the case of Goa, Celsa Pinto in her book ‘Colonial Panjim’ (2017) illustrates two incidents in the 19th century: The first, in 1822, a complaint was raised by residents Diogo de Costa Fernandes and Antonio de Souza expressing apprehensions over poor waste management leading to epidemics. The second in 1855-56 was a special effort by the Health Department to tackle sanitation problems as the debris and organic waste thrown by inhabitants gave rise to diseases like conjunctivitis, angina, tuberculosis, etc.
The great plague of Marseilles (1720), the cholera pandemic in Asia (1820), the Spanish Flu (1920) are examples of how medieval and industrial cities were forced to implement planning practices to aid in disease quarantine and how post-pandemic, management of water and waste helped remake cities. Moreover, in contemporary conditions of our globalised world, pandemics drastically reflect the shortcomings of our cities. The infrastructure needed to combat epidemics has almost always been an afterthought.
We rethought our connectivity as a city building fundamental post-SARS pandemic. Ebola made us conscious of the coexistence of our cities and the impossibility of mass quarantine. As India begins to get conscious of the corona pandemic, waves of xenophobia sweep the tourist hotspot of Goa, moreover the bordering states, as well as the international connectivity, illustrate the amorphous nature of our cities and urban centres. It took the emergency response services and police around 45 days from the reports of the corona pandemic in India, 30 days from the initial corona infection reports, 15 days post the temporary shutting of some services and 2 days post a nationwide curfew to close the borders between Goa, and its neighbouring states of Karnataka and Maharashtra.
In many ways the fundamental planning strategy that we need to factor is density. Rethinking density management is key for long-term survival in a pandemic-prone world. India is home to a large number of informal settlements. How do we manage density in such a scenario? How do we map an outbreak? How do we quarantine areas and cut off physical contact? One can potentially rely on using the democratic planning method — local mapping and using communities to source data. However, much like Wikipedia, decentralising information and data gathering bring with it credibility issues, with no way of sourcing primary information, all urban knowledge acquired shall present an inadequate picture of ground realities at best. Furthermore, India’s porous and informal borders coupled with shifting trends of internal migration within the state and country coupled with a steady inflow of tourists from around the world raise the larger planning-oriented question: is density even a controllable parameter in Indian cities?
India needs higher standards in public health and planning. Contextual planning demands the decentralisation of essential services as a pragmatic response to pandemics. In cases of pandemics, Indian cities — with our inadequate planning, transportation systems and given the scale of our urban assemblies, have become hotbeds for mass infection. Amidst mass hysteria, and when our systems and responses fail, there has to be an inquiry into the shortcomings of our planning practices. “Singapore had to shut down its main hospitals during SARS. Many countries such as Italy are considering door-to-door testing. But we need to also rethink the ways, perhaps digital ones, we test and contain.”4 The door to door testing model would fail in Goa, with millions of mobile tourists, and in cities like Mumbai and Delhi with upwards of 10 million inhabitants, even temporary quarantine is a distant dream.
The coronavirus first spread through a market at Wuhan. Wuhan is an extremely important transportation and international trade centre. The rapid urbanisation of Chinese cities has made them attractive destinations for Chinese workers; urbanisation enables higher densities as the planning process starts to strategize for public gatherings and mass transportation. The physical output of these strategies creates spaces that would enable the spread of infectious diseases at an exponential rate, moreover, the squatters created in developing countries are particularly susceptible to mass infections. Equally, with major transportation and trade routes now connecting India by land and air there is a blurring distinction between urban and rural in terms of the supply chain of products. Pandemics aren’t simply a by-product of globalisation; they are in fact a very stern reminder of connections, economics and participation of global cities with all other areas within a country. The story of Wuhan teaches us that rapid growth cannot be sustainable unless there is an investment in social and technical infrastructure that develops with the pace of urbanisation. Yes, there is a great monetary advantage in mobility and infrastructures that address to it but outbreaks like the coronavirus pandemic do denote that what we’ve been sold as desirable urbanisation is contrary with what makes sense from an infectious disease perspective, “quarantined mega-cities and cruise ships demonstrate what happens when our globalised urban lives come grinding to a halt.”4
As the Indian lock-down progresses, citizens quarantine themselves and mobility is restricted, the deserted urban fabric starts to reveal itself onto the foreground. Infrastructure begins to support a non-existing assembly of people as vegetation reclaims space and nature thrives. Our cities as of this moment are denoting, with extreme precision, the presence, absence and shortcomings of planning and space management at micro and macro scales. As we immerse into a national quarantine, the infrastructure around us is truly tested. Cities are centres developed around mobility and connections, but what happens when these connections are methodically severed? What results would isolation create in a mobile world? Are we to increasingly adopt newer planning practices or are we to focus on planning for emergencies? The deserted reality of our urban fabric today presents us with opportunities for observation. A rare insight into discerning the elemental framework of our urban infrastructure under pandemic pressures and in the vast emptiness.
The larger point that the pandemics steer our focus towards is when the outbreak shall be halted and bans lifted and the world resumes as normal, there still needs to be a great degree of research and understanding into the relationship between the spread of infectious diseases and urbanisation. There are two aspects that we need to focus on. “One, we need to grasp where disease outbreaks occur and how they relate to the physical, spatial, economic, social and ecological changes brought on by urbanisation.”4 There is a direct relationship between contemporary urbanisation and potential pandemic outbreaks. The coronavirus and its effects over our planet are streamlining our focus towards the evaluation of the present conditions of our cities and its infrastructure, raising planning and contextual inquiries, forcing us to introspect and question what we really learn from rapid urbanisation and more importantly, is there a need to catalogue and curate the exploration of emerging urban landscapes?
- Faria, A, Panjim between the past and modernity: building the city of new Goa, 1776-1921.
- Ministry of Tourism statistics for 2018 in Parliament, 03.02.2020
- Pinto, C (1961). Colonial Panjim Its Governance, Its People. Goa 1556.
Pandemics and maps
In the wake of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the CCF team came across a collection of maps that spatially visualise outbreaks, and did a little research around the analytics that illustrate pandemic movements. As it turns out, there has been an effort to document pandemics since as early as the 1600s.
Marie Patino’s article, ‘Coronavirus Outbreak Maps Rooted in History’ shares these historic maps enabling us to understand the shift in data analytics and gathering from a more central approach towards radical democratisation of technology, catalysed through Internet access and data sharing.
Jay Hilotin’s photo essay, ‘Spanish flu 1918 v/s Covid-19′, shares interesting stills and glimpses depicting the on-ground reality of pandemics, within them is a map titled, ‘Worldwide Diffusion of Influenza’, which illustrates the second wave of the Spanish Influenza pandemic.
Historian Mark Osborne Humphries claims he had found “archival evidence” that a respiratory illness that struck northern China in November 1917. This illness was identified a year later by Chinese health officials as identical to the Spanish ‘flu. Humphries also found medical records which indicate that more than 3,000 of the 25,000 Chinese Labor Corps workers who were transported across Canada en route to Europe starting in 1917 ended up in medical quarantine, many with flu-like symptoms.
‘Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak’ in the New York Times, presents a constantly updating world map and illustrating the average number of new cases each day (for the last 7 days). It presents a great insight into how this strain of coronavirus propagates at a regional scale and presents an opportunity to document the global rise of the disease.
Nikhil Rampal’s, the India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU), used Google Trends data, to try to measure the degree of curiosity around the deadly virus in India. This analysis denoted that, across India, the search term ‘coronavirus’ was explored most frequently by people in Goa. Goa had a score of 100, (which means that the percentage of people searching for information on the virus through Google was the highest in the country). According to Google Trends, values are calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is the location with the most popularity as a fraction of total searches in that location, while a value of 50 indicates a location which is half as popular.
Ruins, a site for recreation?
A further insight into the discourse on the situation and vision for Nossa Senhora Do Carmo, Chimbel.
Based on a talk at CCF by;
Fernando Velho, Architect
Erica De Mello, Student at Goa College of Architecture
This blog is the last in a series around the chapel of Mount Carmel, in Chimbel, a village in Goa. The context of Chimbel village can be understood from the blog ‘A Search for Commons in the Pressure of Growing Cities’ part 2 of the blog titled ‘Nossa Senhora Do Carmo’ explains the role of this Chapel in the settlement and the steps a local architect, Fernando Velho has taken, in tandem with the villagers of Chimbel to breathe new life into the space.
Model of a design intervention overlayed with the ruins of Nossa Senhora Do Carmo
Source: Erica De Mello / Goa College of Architecture
To stir up some imagination in the public consciousness, Fernando Velho invited Erica De Mello to present at the Charles Correa Foundation, Erica is a student of the Goa College of Architecture (GCA) who had recently proposed a design intervention in this very site. Erica’s design approach was guided by Mr. Sameep Padora who was a visiting professor at GCA, under the Charles Correa Chair. Erica’s proposal for the site was to turn it into an artists residency.
Artistic representation of how the proposed structure would look.
Source: Erica De Mello / Goa College of Architecture
Ruins with an Alternate Future
Erica spoke about approaching the existing structure through layers, in contrast to “follies” in English landscape, for example, the Capel Manor in England, where the designer constructed an artificial ruin, in contrast, here in Chimbel one can find an existing ruin. Erica tried to approach the structure and “to create within ruin”. Her proposal entailed:
- Structural stabilization of the existing ruins.
- Reconstruction, through a lightweight frame that gave the essence of the original space.
- A public space which would have exhibition zones and facilities for the community.
- Living and working spaces for the artists in residence.
Animation of the various design approaches, overlayed.
Source: Erica De Mello / Goa College of Architecture
The proposed design would have various features which express reverence to the ruin while still creating conducive space for artists.
Representations of the spaces within the proposed design
Source: Erica De Mello/ Goa College of Architecture
Discussions and Deliberations
The discussion after the talk was lively and interesting. Former Chief town planner of India Prof. Edgar Ribeiro commended the Chimbel Villagers for approaching the issue in a bottom-up approach and getting the support of the ward councillor (Pancha).
Edgar also clarified the terminology of an ‘archaeological park’. The Town and Country Planning Office, New Delhi envisioned this zone for places where there were a large number of important national monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in a fixed radius. Mehrauli was the first such archaeological park where Prof. Nalini Thakur from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi oversaw the entire process. In the Regional Plan 2021, Old Goa is denoted as an Archaeological park because there are 14 ASI monuments in a close radius.
Prof. Edgar Ribeiro explaining the vision for an archaeological park.
Source: Lester Silveira / The Balcaö
Arminio Ribeiro asked the Chimbel residents about their vision for the space. The residents discussed the possibility of preservation of the structure, and the amount of development they envisioned for this space.
The villagers recalled memories of feasts and christenings which used to happen at the site long after it was abandoned. A question arose as to why the church was eventually abandoned by the villagers.
Following the talk, a leader of the delegation of Chimbel residents, Mrs. Ana Gracias, asked Prof. Edgar Ribeiro and the CCF team if we could sit and discuss the issue in a private meeting. This meeting happened on the 29th of May. The meeting was attended by the leaders of the Mount Carmel Restoration Forum – a group formed from Chimbel residents, a priest from the Archdiocese of Goa, Edgar Ribeiro, Fernando Velho, and a few other architects.
In the meeting, The following steps were explored in regards to the way forward for the preservation of the structure. The ground reality is that the government does not see any site as heritage unless it finds mention in one of the State drawn plans, in this case, the site must reflect in the Goa Regional Plan 2031. There could be three possible approaches to get the site demarcated here.
Approaches towards conservation
1. As a National Protected Monument
It is extremely unlikely for this particular site to become a monument to be protected by the Central Act- ‘The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (or AMASR Act) , 1958’. It is not of national importance and the ASI presently protect over 3650 monuments.
2. As a State Protected Monument
There was discussion to list this site as a state protected monument and the villagers had already petitioned the Directorate of Archives and Archaeology (DAA) to take this case forward. The CCF team however feel that in listing the site as a state protected monument, the DAA becomes another important decision maker in any proposal for re-use of the site. This means any conservation effort would not only need permission from the owners of the site (Provedoria) but any maintenance or conservation done to the monument, would be subject to restrictive measures of ‘Restoration’ put forth in the ‘The Goa Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Act, 2010’
3. Get the site on the list for Conservation.
The ‘Goa (Land Development and Building Construction) Act’. in section 6B.2.C has a section titled ‘List of Buildings and sites of Historic and Aesthetic Importance in State of Goa to be notified under these regulations’
There is merit in listing the site as conservation instead of preservation because the site can be developed out of the restrictive definitions within the ‘The Goa Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Act, 2010’ , while still having to go through checks and balances put in place by the Conservation Study Committee of the Town and Country Planning Department, Goa.
Meeting between Prof. Edgar, Fernando, Clergy, and Chimbel residents on 29th May 2019 at the Charles Correa Foundation.
Vision for the site
The meeting concluded with the residents and architects contemplating a vision for the site in the near future. A consensus was reached to turning the 4000 square meters (that encompass the ruins and the access to them) into a park for Chimbel Village. Structural preservation would be implemented on the ruins and the rest of the space be notified as green space in the Regional Plan for Goa 2031.
In this regard the Charles Correa Foundation has written a letter in support of this initiative to the Minister of Town and Country Planning, Goa. On the 21st of June 2018, the Minister accepted the request of the Chimbel residents, citing the Charles Correa Foundation’s letter as documentation for significance of the site.
The Bigger Picture
Since 1984, in the state of Goa, no new structures have been listed for conservation. With the success of this initiative, the CCF team believes a precedent has been set. A successful listing and conservation of Nossa Senhora Do Carmo have illustrated that a building of heritage value deserves to be, and can be conserved through public demand.
In the context of Heritage sites in Goa, both ancient and relatively contemporary being threatened. And with certain elements in the State making a case for the demolition of one of the few equitable, civic buildings in the capital city of Goa, Panaji – Kala Academy, we believe, now more than ever it is important for us to be watchful and work to conserve our heritage spaces.
Do you know of a monument or site in your locality that deserves recognition? Write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can advise you on the way forward.
Nossa Senhora Do Carmo
Do the ruins of an 18th-century chapel and convent feature in the aspirations of a village, under pressure from the growing city?
Based on a talk at CCF by;
Fernando Velho, Architect
Erica De Mello, Student at Goa College of Architecture
In the previous blog ‘A Search for Commons in the Pressure of Growing Cities’ – the problems and pressures on the Goan village of Chimbel were illustrated. Within that context, there arose a need for a public space that could serve as a commons for the village.
A Search for Commons in the Pressure of Growing Cities
This blog is the first part of a trilogy about a village, its residents, and the ruins of a chapel. The Charles Correa Foundation has been actively involved in assisting the villagers in their project, and our combined efforts have recently yielded positive results. You can read about it on the news section of our website or Aliya Abreu’s article in the Goan Everyday.
Continue reading “A Search for Commons in the Pressure of Growing Cities”
Panaji’s forgotten resource: old buildings
The CCF team talks about heritage in Panaji, and CCF’s 2014 Heritage Listing Project.
As Goa’s capital, the city of Panaji draws tourists for attractions that are uniquely its own: its heritage precincts and structures. As observed over recent decades, however, unregulated developments within the heritage areas fail to respect the context. These precincts and structures lose their heritage value when new developments overpower the visual fabric of heritage neighbourhoods.
There is a clear need for conservation of the precincts. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, “conservation” means “the processes through which material, design and integrity of the monument are safeguarded in terms of its archaeological and architectural value, its historical significance and its cultural or intangible associations.”
The Goa (Regulation of Land Development and Building Construction) Act 2008, passed by the Legislative Assembly of Goa, mandated the grading of listed buildings, precincts or conservation zones in the Goa, initiated by the Conservation Committee. It was decided that it would be mandatory to indicate a grade for every listed building or listed precinct or conservation zone.
A need for a notified heritage listing of structures and precincts in Goa had been recognised.
In 2014, CCF conducted a documented study on Heritage Listing in Panaji. The listing and grading project was commissioned by the Department of Town and Country Planning, Government of Goa. The purpose of the documentation of heritage buildings in Panaji was to notify structures of heritage value, thus producing a reference for protection of heritage buildings in Panaji.
The study identified, mapped, listed and graded heritage structures based on a survey conducted to note the historic and architectural significance of a structure along with its contribution to a heritage streetscape. The heritage areas include: Sao Tome, Fontainhas, Mala, Portais, CBD (Central Business District), Altinho, Campal and Ribandar.
The survey conducted was based on detailed inventory-making of each building with various parameters. The information gathered on heritage structures include observing the access, ownership of the property, usage, style and architectural features. It also involved examining the materials used and making an overall assessment of the condition, which would help to understand the threat to the building. With a team of project consultants, the structures were then graded based on their Historic, Architectural, Cultural and Streetscape value.
Structures which have high value under all the above criteria are listed as Grade I. Similarly, structures having values in lesser criteria are listed as Grade II, III and IV accordingly. Based on the grade, the activity of protection for the building is recommended by the Goa Land Development Regulations 2010.
Based on the research and documentation, CCF created a set of maps and guidelines to document important heritage structures in the city.
In total, around 900 buildings were documented as part of the study. With the increasing awareness of the significance of conservation in recent years, the heritage list plays a crucial role in framing guidelines for upcoming developments in heritage precincts in Goa.
Heritage listing is an important tool to indicate way-forward steps for conservation of heritage structures in a city. Are the heritage structures in your city or district being conserved? If not, are they on the notified conservation list? What can we, as citizens, do to ensure that significant-but-forgotten heritage structures get notified? Comment below with your ideas!
IS OUR CITY ANY GOOD?
A forum for citizens to understand and discuss the city.
“In this dependence on maps as some sort of higher reality, project planners and urban designers assume they can create a promenade simply by mapping one in where they want it, then having it built. But a promenade needs promenaders.”
-Jacobs, J. ‘The Life and Death of Great American Cities’ (1961)
Throughout our architectural education and our professional life we as architects live and strive to make space better. We toil to design buildings, spaces and systems that people should use in a certain way to improve their quality of life. This top-down approach has led to many city-centric designs that are effective on paper but often fail in the eyes of the public. A part of the problem is that the design community has fallen into a rut of “the people should…” instead of trying to understand what it is that the people actually do.
Good City is an experiment through dialogue; in the city, with citizens, and stakeholders. It aims to undertake participatory exercises with citizens and bridge the gap between designers, government and citizens. The forum may serve as a platform to mediate between development and conservation, public projects and private interest, all in the vision of a better city for us all.
Good City Meet 1 – Bookworm Library, Mala, Panaji
The first meeting brought together people of various backgrounds—a pharmacist, an artist, designers, architects and a policy strategist. Held in Bookworm library on a Sunday, the 5th of May 2019, the meet provided a platform for participants to vocally express what the city meant to them, and what this group can do as a collective to better understand the city. Short-term and long-term goals were envisioned, one of which is representing ideas on a ‘good’ city through visual media: photography, videography, drawings and writing.
Good City Meet 2 – Charles Correa Foundation, Fontainhas, Panaji
The second meet was held at the Charles Correa Foundation, on a Friday, the 10th of May 2019. Participants discussed the Foundation’s photoblog titled, ‘Late-Night Stroll, Anyone? Assessing Safety in Panaji’s Streets’. In the photoblog, the CCF team approached the dimension of safety in Panaji’s streets through the concepts written by urbanist Jane Jacobs in her famous book ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’. This prompted the discussion of urban theories postulated by Jane Jacobs, and their relevance based on citizens’ observations in Panaji and Mapusa.
A key takeaway was the need for engagement with diverse sections of the public in order to understand a holistic perception of good urban space.
Good City Event – Jardim, Garcia D’Orta, Panaji
The third meet took the form of a social experiment, based on a suggestion to talk to citizens in the Municipal Garden. On 11th May, a children’s event prompted a large turnout which was ideal for a mood-mapping exercise with children and their parents. Using a colour-coded system ranging from Green (very positive response to a space) to Pink (very negative response to a place), participants of the exercise responded to spaces in the vicinity by placing Post-Its on a map of the area.
Good City Event – Jardim, Garcia D’Orta, Panaji
With at least 40 children and 20 adults participating in the exercise, a significant amount of data was gathered, including the ages of the participants and their reasons for liking or disliking the spaces. The next step is to repeat the exercise with larger sections of people and analyse the assimilated data.
What do you think makes a ‘good’ city? Comment below or write to us of your thoughts, ideas and experiences of similar initiatives!
The Good City Citizens Forum happens weekly in Goa. It is publicized in most newspapers; you can join our discourse in person or follow our progress online, either on social media or subscribe to our mailing list here.
‘Late-Night Stroll, Anyone? Assessing Safety in Panaji’s Streets’
Participatory exercise with children in U.S.A. https://www.dailycamera.com/2019/04/29/growing-up-boulder-collaborates-with-700-elementary-students-on-city-map/
Event@CCF: Film screening of ‘Kakkoos’
While the 2017 documentary presented the stark reality of manual scavengers in Tamil Nadu, the subsequent discussion, with the lawyer and human rights activist Albertina Almeida, and the architect Tallulah D’Silva, provided insight on way-forward action in Goa.
Have you ever wondered what happens after you flush your toilet? In urban India, we rely on the government to contain, manage and, if we are overly optimistic, treat our sewerage. But we (should) know better: we depend on, and exploit by complicity, a section of society to literally clean up our mess. The documentary ‘Kakkoos’, directed by activist Divya Bharathi, unforgivingly holds up a mirror to our actions.
The 2013 ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation’ Act has defined ‘manual scavenger’ as:
“a person engaged or employed, at the commencement of this Act or at any time thereafter, by an individual or local authority or an agency or a contractor, for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit into which the human excreta from the insanitary latrines is disposed of, or on a railway track or in such other spaces or premises, as the Central Government of a State Government may notify, before the excreta fully decomposes in such manner as may be prescribed…”
Manual scavenging has been officially banned since 1993, with the ban being reinforced with the 2013 Act. But the 109-minute documentary, which focusses on manual scavenging in Tamil Nadu, sheds light on a grim reality by detailing the plight of manual scavengers and their families in a casteist society.
Still from the film: Improvement of the economic status of manual scavengers is prevented by a deep-rooted casteist prejudice. (credits: Divya Bharathi)
According to the ENVIS Centre on Hygiene, Sanitation, Sewage Treatment Systems and Technology, the Central Government counts 53,000 manual scavengers in India. The film argues otherwise: due to open defecation, even street garbage collectors face the humiliating task of collecting excreta almost every day. Since they are provided gloves, they are not labelled ‘manual scavengers’ and thus cannot be protected by the law.
Daily-wage labourers employed for cleaning railway tracks, septic tanks, manholes and small-town open sewers also face the same prejudice. The blatant exploitation of labourers is bigger than a casteist problem; it is a socio-economic issue where the poor, usually the women and the aged of marginalised sections of society, are forced into manual scavenging labour.
Still from the film: Though they clean the sewers of the city, manual scavengers are forced to live in slums without access to clean sanitation. (credits: Divya Bharathi)
The film inspired viewers to begin an animated discussion on important takeaways and the steps going forward. Led by Albertina Almeida and Tallulah D’Silva, various ideas were discussed for individuals and the community to take up.
Tallulah, an architect who is passionate about sustainable solutions, noted the significance of zero-waste dry toilets and suggested a lifestyle change with their use. She urged the audience to rethink the default flushing system, which mixes excreta with water thus creating the need for septic tanks, which inherently depend on manual scavenging. An important takeaway was the changes that the architecture community can catalyse by practice, such as a DIY dry toilet kit, which uses sand and sunlight to break down excreta. CCF will collaborate with Tallulah to organise a workshop on making dry toilets in the foreseeable future.
Albertina, a lawyer and human rights activist, emphasised the need for a statewide manual scavenger survey with self-registration booths in Goa to understand the magnitude of the issue. As a society, to bring the issue to the forefront of political concern—which forces politicians to bank on the interests of the marginalised society—is the way forward.
As individuals, what steps should we take to address and solve the problem? Comment below to let us know!
Those interested in the film may view it here on YouTube.
Read more about manual scavenging here:
- Manifesto by Safai Karmachari Andolan https://thelogicalindian.com/awareness/safai-karmachari-manifesto/
- Urban shit: where does it all go? https://www.downtoearth.org.in/coverage/waste/urban-shit-53422
- Manual scavenging: A stinking legacy of suffocation and stigma https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/waste/manual-scavenging-a-stinking-legacy-of-suffocation-and-stigma-61586
- Why technology alone won’t solve India’s manual scavenging problem https://scroll.in/article/905669/why-technology-alone-wont-solve-indias-manual-scavenging-problem
Late-night stroll, anyone? Assessing safety in Panaji’s streets
In a photoblog, the CCF team observes footpaths in Panaji from Jane Jacobs’ perspective.
“Think of a city and what comes to mind? Its streets. If a city’s streets look interesting, the city looks interesting. If they look dull, the city looks dull.”
– Jane Jacobs, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’
As an activist for better cities, Jane Jacobs was very vocal about the failure of planning policy by ground-reality measures. Her 1961 book ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’ was avant-garde in its city planning principles, of which safety of the city was key. According to the urbanist, people feel a city is safe or unsafe depending on how they perceive its streets and footpaths.
What does safety of footpaths entail? In the chapter ‘The uses of Sidewalks: Safety’, Jane Jacobs explains that peace on the streets is maintained by a “network of voluntary controls and standards among the people themselves, and enforced by the people themselves.” She breaks down the success of good city neighbourhoods into three main qualities:
- A clear demarcation between private space and public space;
- There must be eyes upon the street;
- Footpaths must have users on them fairly continuously, both to add the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch them.
“People’s love of watching, activity and other people is constantly evident in cities everywhere.”
– Jane Jacobs, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’
The qualities seem like easy goals, but it is not simple to achieve them. As Jacobs puts it simply, “You can’t make people use streets they have no reason to use. You can’t make people watch streets they do not want to watch.”
The CCF team observed Panaji’s footpaths during various times (office-closing and shop-closing hours, for instance) on a weekday evening to understand the dimension of safety in the city.
1. D.B.Road, near Children’s Park
Despite having good lighting and footpath conditions, and vehicular activity throughout the night, the primary street lacks concrete reasons for using or watching it, thus lacking the checks and inhibitions exerted by eye-policed city streets.
2. Governador Pestana Road, near Panaji Market
The commercial street sees late-night activity, and consequent surveillance, on account of the local food vendors.
3. M.G. Road
The mixed-use street draws people late into, and throughout, the night due to the presence of eateries, ice-cream parlours and a 24-hour pharmacy.
4. 18th June Road
The well-lit commercial street sees constant activity until late into the night. Shopkeepers are an unconscious source of vigilance, and shop activity on the footpaths—people buying, eating and talking— attracts more people.
5. Dr. Dada Vaidya Road, near the Mahalakshmi temple
The well-lit mixed-use street sees no activity on its footpaths beyond retail-shop closing hours.
6. Ramachandra Naik Road, Altinho
Despite being well-lit and completely accessible to public use, the interior residential street is closed to public view and is blank of built-in eyes.
7. D.B.Road, near Captain of Ports
The well-lit primary street sees activity, and consequent surveillance, until late into the night due to the casino commerce.
8. 31st January Road
The mixed-use street in the old Latin quarter of the city sees activity, and consequent surveillance, at night due to the presence of restaurants and the local bar.
9. Nanu Tarkar Pednekar Road, Mala
The residential street lacks sufficient lighting and sees no usual evening activity that attracts eyes.
10. Patto, near the KTC bus stand
Despite sufficient lighting and footpath conditions, the street in the Patto Central Business District does not see activity on its footpaths after the closure of the bus stand and lacks built-in eyes.
As observed, the problem of insecurity cannot be solved by spreading people out into suburb-like neighbourhoods that require watchman patrol, or by good lighting alone. The observations back what Jacobs stresses on: a well-lit footpath in a dense, mixed-use neighbourhood, having late-night people-attracting ‘activity points’—eateries, bars, movie theatres, et al.—and unconsciously surveyed by ‘built-in eyes’ (such as residences above the commercial fronts) is a safe footpath!
Jane Jacobs (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, and yet her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail. The impact of Jane Jacobs’s observation, activism, and writing has led to a ‘planning blueprint’ for generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists to practice.
Jacobs saw cities as integrated systems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With an eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. She promoted higher density in cities, short blocks, local economies and mixed uses. Jacobs helped derail the car-centered approach to urban planning in both New York and Toronto, invigorating neighborhood activism by helping stop the expansion of expressways and roads. She lived in Greenwich Village for decades, then moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and writing on urbanism, economies and social issues until her death in April 2006.
A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work, and play. (Source: The Center for the Living City)
The CCF team wishes to thank Tahir Noronha for his contribution to this blog.
Riverfront proposal in Panaji: development or demise?
The CCF team takes a closer look at the Panaji riverfront development proposal.
Rivers have long been the backbone of human settlements for many reasons: fertile floodplains, irrigation, and transportation. With the pressure of urbanisation, riverfronts across the world have come to represent open public space in otherwise dense cities. Today, Riverfront Development projects are viewed as a “means of economic and cultural growth, and are dominated by commerce and recreation to create a thriving and continuous public realm.” (Yadav, n.d.)
Under the Smart Cities Mission, many cities have taken up riverfront projects, some of which are budgeted over 100 crores:
|Name of the project||City||Budget (crores)|
|Reinvigoration of Vishwamitri Riverfront Influence Area||Vadodara||508|
|Ganga Riverfront Development||Kanpur||125|
|Gomti Riverfront Development||Lucknow||113|
(Smart Cities Mission GOI, 2016)
What is the money being utilised for? Upon closer inspection, the projects amount to little more than the promotion of recreational and commercial activities on riverfronts which “typically include promenades, boat trips, shopping, petty shops, restaurants, theme parks, walkways and even parking lots in the encroached river bed.” (SANDRP 2014.) ‘Riverfront development’ has been reduced to, and is used interchangeably with, ‘river beautification’.
In Panaji, the Smart City Proposal calls for an “Improved riverfront development along the Mandovi river (landscaping near Cruise jetty), soil conservation measures and beautification of open spaces and bridges.”
A recent news article lists initiatives along Rua de Ourem creek
According to recent news articles featured in Goa Today (Gomantak, Marathi) and Times of India, the proposal has been further elaborated into the following initiatives:
- Redevelopment of the Santa Monica Jetty with seating, viewpoints and food stalls;
- A foot bridge connecting the Santa Monica Jetty to the old PWD building near the Patto bridge;
- A “Welcome Centre” in place of the old PWD building near Patto bridge;
- Extension of the existing footpath lining Rua de Ourem creek, behind the Central Library;
- A 1.6-km walking path overlooking the creek near the People’s High School;
- Cleaning of the creek “without destroying the ecosystem”;
- Boating facility along the creek (the depth of the creek will be increased along the route);
- Providing CCTV cameras “at required locations” to stop people from throwing trash.
The proposal has been promised within 18 months after the 2019 elections.
Based on the limited information, the CCF team’s first reaction is to question the environmental impact of the project: the long-term viability of the cleaning of the creek is unclear with the introduction of tourist-drawing boating facility. There is no mention of addressing the inevitable negative environmental impact of such tourist-centric initiatives. With the “redevelopment” of Santa Monica Jetty, the proposal seems unlikely to become anything more than a make-up treatment of Mandovi river.
What will be the true cost of such a project? In the past, many waterfront projects have blatantly violated many environmental laws of the land, thereby setting many local species protection projects back by years. Fauna and avifauna along the edges of water bodies face threat under such economically-motivated schemes.
In the face of such a trend, the key takeaway for citizens is that there should be an informed awareness of the riverfront or waterfront project in the city. Looking beyond the attractive sheen of promised recreational activity is important to question the environmental, cultural and social ramifications of the proposal.
The South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has called for restoration of rivers rather than beautification, concretisation, channeling or encroachment. A credible early-design-stage citizen participatory process, with an efficient mechanism for suggestions and objections, will strengthen the city’s backing of a well-designed programme (in a resounding example, effective implementation in the Netherlands has accounted for river water dynamics, erosion and sedimentation process, and the tides).
Factoring in ecological measures doesn’t have to dissolve citizens’ connection to the creek, or the river: if anything, experiencing the waterscape will only be enhanced by the protection of the water bodies. Isn’t that what Development is about?
Read more on Riverfront Development projects here:
Trend of Riverfront Development projects in India:
Citizens’ action- Open letter to the Secretary, MOEF:
Netherlands’ Room for the River Programme:
SANDRP. 2014. “Riverfront Development in India: Cosmetic make up on deep wounds”. Accessed 2nd March 2019.
Smart Cities Mission GOI. 2016. “List of Projects of Rs. 100 crore and above as per SCPs of 60 Smart Cities”. Accessed 2nd March 2019. http://smartcities.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/List_of_Projects_60_Cities.pdf
Yadav, Vriddhi. n.d., “Riverfront Development in Indian Cities: The Missing Link.” Academia 1-6. https://www.academia.edu/32219232/Riverfront_Development_in_Indian_Cities_The_Missing_Link.
Car is King: Goa at the mercy of parking rule
The CCF team discusses the parking issue in Goa, and the state’s much-awaited response.
If you have ever found yourself driving past your destination and circling around for that elusive space free of a ‘No Parking’ sign (or ignoring that), you are part of an overwhelming majority in Goa. The situation isn’t unusual in a state where the annual vehicle growth rate is almost 10 times that of the population growth rate (2001-2011) (Source: Draft Parking Policy, IPSCL).
Source: Draft Parking Policy, IPSCL
This phenomenal increase in traffic volume coupled with limited road space in major cities in the state account for the state’s parking woes. An unreliable public transport system and the general attitude towards car ownership, with its attached social status, evince that, without an efficient implementation of a holistic parking policy, the problem will not go away any time soon. The problem isn’t without irony: according to the Central Road Research Institute, an average car’s steering time in only 400 hours a year. That means a typical vehicle stays parked 95% of the time!
The past decade’s figures reveal the extent of the problem: with a 14.5 lakh population (Source: Census 2011) and a whopping 54.8 lakh tourist footfall in 2018 alone (Source: Department of Tourism, Govt. of Goa), it is evident that Goa’s thriving tourism industry heavily relies on the rental automobile industry. Where is the road space for all these vehicles?
Two-wheelers encroach upon footpaths, making pedestrians vulnerable to moving vehicles on the carriageway.
The conventional methods of dealing with parking have largely been to increase the supply to meet the demand, by providing additional infrastructure for the driver rather than providing enough choices for the commuters, in terms of alternative public transport. The former, a limited approach, only leads to a system which will be insufficient in due course of time as it attracts more and more vehicles, as against a fixed parameter of road capacity.
To tackle parking, it is important to derive logical solutions to parking, based on its types: on-street parking and off-street parking. In its proposed Decongestion Model for Panaji City Centre in 2014, CCF called for delineation of on-street parking and a paid parking strategy. A significant parking fee for visitors encourages them to park off-street, in strategically located multi-storey parking structures, and use a regulated hop-on hop-off bus system into the city. The Model recommended a discounted parking allowance for shop owners and free parking for residents.
CCF’s proposed off-street parking management in the Decongestion Model of the Panaji City Centre
CCF’s proposed on-street parking management in the Decongestion Model of the Panaji City Centre
In the Draft Parking Policy, Imagine Panaji Smart City Limited has envisioned the following parking management strategies:
- Delineation of on-street parking
- Introduction of parking reservations on streets
- Pricing for on-street parking
- Pricing for off-street parking
- Parking permit schemes for residential and work zones
- Use of technology for Smart Parking
- Instituting a Parking Cell for enforcement
- Reconsidering building regulations to reduce parking minimums
- Introduction of Proof of Parking attached to the owner’s residential location
- Planning parking for the relatively sustainable electric vehicles
Source: Parking Basics, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
The Smart City parking proposal reconsiders the status quo: the automobile should not dominate the street. With an aim to prioritise the safe movement of people, services and goods on the road network, it seeks to enhance walkability of the city.
With demand-based pricing formulated on various factors—land value, vehicle type and duration of parking, parking district, and existing demand in the parking—the policy “enhances turnover of parking bays and ensures access to limited on-street parking in high parking demand areas.” The proposal also provides for any plans for the future of mobility: electric vehicles, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Source: Parking Basics, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
The implementation of such parking solutions has a rough road ahead. The pay-parking system, introduced in Panaji in 2016, failed to bring any discipline to the city’s chaotic and mismanaged traffic and was discontinued in 2017 after the expiry of the contract awarded to a private operator. (Source: Herald Goa) However, the Corporation of the City of Panaji has decided, in March 2019, to reinstate the system using its workers to implement it (Source: Times of India Goa). Other tourist-attracting centres, such as Candolim and Old Goa, have also implemented the system to restrict unregulated parking and gain revenue.
Over recent decades, it has become evident that parking is an issue constantly and disproportionately growing with city size, in India and across the world. With timely implementation of the parking policy in its major urban centres, Goa has the chance to buck the trend, and ‘park’ the issue at the kerb!