City on reel

The Charles Correa Foundation with the support of Mumbai-based ATE Chandra Foundation is organising Nagari, a short film contest themed around adequate housing in urban India.
Different housing typologies can be observed in Mumbai.
Photo: Hardik Joshi via Unsplash

By Christine Machado | NT BUZZ

According to the Ministry of Housing, Government of India, over 17 per cent of urban India lives in settlements with inadequate amenities and without access to essential services. Over three million urban dwellers are homeless and unable to afford even the most basic housing.

In order to highlight this issue and offer up possible solutions, The Charles Correa Foundation with the support of the Mumbai-based charitable trust ATE Chandra Foundation has conceptualised a short film contest titled ‘Nagari’. Themed around addressing the question ‘How could one tell the story of housing adequacy in urban India?’

Continue reading “City on reel”

A new script for cities

The Charles Correa Foundation is organising a short film festival focusing on adequate urban housing to help generate ideas that can be used to reconfigure cities for the benefit of its residents.
The film festival will generate ideas which could then be used to better the living conditions of cities in India.
Photo: Rajesh Vora

By Ajit John (ajit@herald-goa.com)

The cities of India are seething with problems. From its design to pollution to its traffic congestion that seems to be growing by the day. The same holds true for Goa too. Complaints have risen from the residents of Panjim and other parts about traffic congestion, increase in garbage and the construction that continues without restraint. The Charles Correa Foundation has for the very first time launched the Nagari Film Competition. It will be an annual competition designed to guide and develop films that focus on urban issues, specific to Indian cities. 

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‘Nightwalkers glide through Tier III towns’: How can India heal its coronavirus-ravaged cities?

By Vivek Menezes

The Z-Axis Conference brings together ‘starchitects’ from around the world to share their experiences about solving urban challenges.
‘Nightwalkers glide through Tier III towns’: How can India heal its coronavirus-ravaged cities?
A family of migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh walk out of Navi Mumbai. | PTI

A few days ago, the outstanding poet and translator Mustansir Dalvi (he has also been on the faculty of Mumbai’s Sir JJ School of Architecture for 17 years) released a new collection of verse. Walk, he said, was written from his “sense of helplessness, frustration and anger” earlier this year, when “we were seeing vast number of people, walking back home, sometimes covering over 1,000 km from state to state, without support, money or transportation”.

By now, it’s clear India launched heedlessly into “the world’s strictest lockdown” without the measures necessary to safeguard the vast majority of its citizens. At that time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi misguidedly promised that the “Mahabharata war was won in 18 days, this war the whole country is fighting against corona will take 21 days”.

Continue reading “‘Nightwalkers glide through Tier III towns’: How can India heal its coronavirus-ravaged cities?”

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

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“Project for the new city of Goa to be built at the site of Panjim” executed and drawn by Joze de Morais Antas Machado, infantry sergeant-major and engineer, in March 1776, by order of the Ill. and Ex. Snr. D. Jozé Pedro da Camara Governor and Captain General of India”2

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.

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Scène de la peste de 1720 à la Tourette (Marseille) by Catalan-born French painter Michel Serre

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As the great plague of Marseilles moved inexorably northward (1720), it approached the Papal territories around Avignon. In an effort to stop its spread, the Pope and the King of France agreed to build a two-meter-high stone wall from near Mt. Ventoux to the Durance River.

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.

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A major problem during the Ebola virus disease epidemic in Liberia was that the exact actions performed during these sacred rituals such as ‘Decoration Day’ also helped to cause further transmission of the disease. Strict regulations on handling the bodies of Ebola victims evolved in response to this problem.

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.

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Large-scale cleaning operations were carried out at a number of housing estates badly affected by SARS photo: Martin Chan

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Residents were only allowed to return to their homes in Amoy Gardens when the quarantine was lifted in the middle of April of 2003. Photo: Robert NG

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?

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The network of railways in India penetrates thousands of small villages, towns and developing rural landscapes. Multiple trade routes propagate and latency of mass transportation developing long supply chains and multiple access routes.

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.

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The Wuhan Tianhe International Airport is a large airport in China. It is an international airport and serves the area of Hubei, China. Wuhan Airport has non-stop passenger flights scheduled to 94 destinations in 19 countries. Usually, there are 65 domestic flights from Wuhan.5

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

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A view of Mumbai’s Bandra-Worli sea link over the Arabian Sea as seen during a 14-hour lockdown to limit the spread of coronavirus. Photo: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

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.

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A view of Kolkata’s iconic Howrah Bridge during the 14-hour curfew to limit the spread of coronavirus. Photo: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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?

FOOTNOTES

  1. https://www.indiatoday.in/diu/story/coronavirus-google-trends-search-india-bihar-goa-karnataka-1655343-2020-03-14
  2. Faria, A, Panjim between the past and modernity: building the city of new Goa, 1776-1921.
  3. Ministry of Tourism statistics for 2018 in Parliament, 03.02.2020 
  4. https://www.citylab.com/design/2020/03/coronavirus-urban-planning-global-cities-infectious-disease/607603/
  5. https://www.flightconnections.com/flights-from-wuhan-wuh
  6. https://www.citylab.com/design/2020/02/how-we-map-epidemics-coronavirus-history/606349/
  7. https://www.scmp.com/photos/hong-kong/2138765/hong-kongs-deadly-sars-outbreak-pictures?page=14
  8. Pinto, C (1961). Colonial Panjim Its Governance, Its People. Goa 1556.
  9. https://www.scmp.com/photos/hong-kong/2138765/hong-kongs-deadly-sars-outbreak-pictures?page=14

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.  

IMG_7260A 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.

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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.

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Based on the research and documentation, CCF created a set of maps and guidelines to document important heritage structures in the city.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Further Reading:

CCF Blog

‘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.

Capture.JPGStill 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.

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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.

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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:

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.

Panaji map.jpgKey plan

1. D.B.Road, near Children’s Park

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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

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The commercial street sees late-night activity, and consequent surveillance, on account of the local food vendors.

3. M.G. Road

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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

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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

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The well-lit mixed-use street sees no activity on its footpaths beyond retail-shop closing hours.

6. Ramachandra Naik Road, Altinho

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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

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The well-lit primary street sees activity, and consequent surveillance, until late into the night due to the casino commerce.

8. 31st January Road

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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

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The residential street lacks sufficient lighting and sees no usual evening activity that attracts eyes.

10. Patto, near the KTC bus stand

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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!

 

jacobs2Jane 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
Riverfront Development Shivamogga 421
Ganga Riverfront Development Kanpur 125
Gomti Riverfront Development Lucknow 113
Goda-Riverfront Development Nashik 110

(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.”

 

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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:
https://sandrp.in/2014/11/03/goda-park-riverfront-development-project-violation-of-court-order-and-destruction-of-fertile-riparian-zone/

Citizens’ action- Open letter to the Secretary, MOEF:
https://counterview.org/2016/01/09/cease-vadodaras-vishwamitri-riverfront-development-project-till-environmental-clearance-or-face-legal-action/

Netherlands’ Room for the River Programme:
https://www.riob.org/en/file/259093/download?token=L7PIEzs0

 

References:

SANDRP. 2014. “Riverfront Development in India: Cosmetic make up on deep wounds”. Accessed 2nd March 2019.
https://sandrp.in/2014/09/17/riverfront-development-in-india-cosmetic-make-up-on-deep-wounds/

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).

draft-parking-policy_ipscdl-7-e1553841170779.jpg

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?

img_7235.jpgTwo-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.

141118_Decongestion report-41CCF’s proposed off-street parking management in the Decongestion Model of the Panaji City Centre

 

parkingCCF’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:

  1. Delineation of on-street parking
  2. Introduction of parking reservations on streets
  3. Pricing for on-street parking
  4. Pricing for off-street parking
  5. Parking permit schemes for residential and work zones
  6. Use of technology for Smart Parking
  7. Instituting a Parking Cell for enforcement
  8. Reconsidering building regulations to reduce parking minimums
  9. Introduction of Proof of Parking attached to the owner’s residential location
  10. Planning parking for the relatively sustainable electric vehicles

Parking-Basics-7Source: 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.

Parking-Basics-13Source: 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!