ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Shirish B PatelSubscribe to Shirish B Patel

Life between Buildings

The World Bank has been complaining that Indian cities are not making optimal use of their land and has been pressing for upward revisions of the floor space index, particularly in Mumbai and Bangalore. However, the bald comparison of FSI across cities that the WB presents is seriously misleading. This paper proposes a new metric, crowding, defined as the number of persons per hectare for a particular urban use. Thus we have indoor crowding, park crowding, and amenity crowding. How the new metric of crowding might be used in planning or replanning urban areas in general and the major policy changes that need to be made if Mumbai's housing shortage is to be seriously addressed is also discussed.

Inclusionary Housing

Now that governments all over the world have stopped building public housing, alternative policies are needed to ensure that the lower income groups in towns and cities have access to decent and affordable housing. "Inclusionary housing" offers a set of policies to meet this need. Its central feature is that whenever any new floor space is built, for whatever reason, a portion of the built space is set aside for housing those who cannot afford what the market offers by way of rental or ownership housing. Building such accommodation is the responsibility of the developer; managing it thereafter is in the hands of a different agency, and subsidising the families that live there is a third function separated from the first two.

Dharavi: Makeover or Takeover?

Dharavi in Mumbai exemplifies what is most ugly and what is most inspiring about slum life in a city. How should it be redeveloped to remove the ugliness and yet retain its community spirit, enterprise, ambitions and hope? Current plans are focused on profit-making, by developers and government, with the welfare of the residents an incidental nuisance. This article examines the many attendant constraints in developing viable solutions. One is the promise of free pucca housing for slum-dwellers, which seems to have become a given for all slum redevelopment schemes in Mumbai. Another is the fact that Dharavi already has the highest living densities in the world, and redevelopment of the kind that is proposed will triple these densities, making living there unviable. The result could be that the present residents will sell out and flee, leaving Dharavi in the hands of high-income occupants living at more comfortable densities. An alternative would be to provide the essential infrastructure of water supply and sanitation, frame rules for redevelopment, and leave it to organisations of the residents themselves to take up reconstruction as and when they wish, in consonance with an overall plan.

Mumbai and Shanghai

Kala Seetharam Sridhar (KSS) (Letters, 13 September) has surely not missed the point of Yasheng Huang’s article “Should Mumbai Learn from Shanghai?” (19 July).

Unstated Premises of Maharashtra's Housing Policy

The government of Maharashtra recently tabled its housing policy in the state assembly. It is a document that more or less sets out current government thinking on housing issues. There are no bold new initiatives. The gloom engendered by such thinking is marginally lightened by the fact that the housing policy has been published at all, and is open to debate: perhaps the government will finally listen to what the public, in particular slum dwellers, have to say.

Urban Layouts, Densities and the Quality of Urban Life

Urban planning in Mumbai has been systematically dismantled over the last few decades by successive regimes in Maharashtra. The planners themselves are not clear about the space needed for public uses. Hence, when they talk about turning Mumbai into Shanghai, they are only considering an increase in the floor space index but not the public areas. This study introduces two new concepts to help understand and evaluate urban layouts: the public ground area per capita and the buildable plot ratio. Using these concepts, it analyses how the variations of the configuration of private and public spaces affect densities and the working of urban areas. The paper also disagrees with the proposed government policy for Dharavi of resettling slum-dwellers in situ, in free housing paid for by new occupants in additional floor space on the same site.

Advantages of Bus Rapid Transit Systems

Advantages of Bus Rapid Transit Systems Curitiba has high-floor double-articulated buses of 270-passenger capacity, with G-shaped tubular platforms enclosed in clear plastic and buses arriving with floors level with the mouth of the G.

Would Decentralisation Have Made a Difference?

Mumbai needs governance of a different kind, decentralised to a local level and run by individuals more clearly answerable for their local performance, rather than being run by ministers who have state-wide responsibilities and constituencies. This article describes current planning procedures, and looks at a Canadian alternative based on public participation, consensus building and a devolution of local planning to local authorities. It also suggests that the mayor-in-council system of governance, successfully pursued in Kolkata, might have produced a more effective response to the disaster.

Housing Policies for Mumbai

Mumbai is confounded with a host of problems pertaining to housing the poor and the not-so-poor. With rising real estate prices, more and more people with perfectly respectable jobs cannot find affordable housing to buy or to rent, not to mention those who are self-employed or in the lowest strata of society. More than half the population lives in slums. Residential construction for rental for the middle and lower income groups stopped half a century ago, because of the Rent Act, and shows no signs of revival. There is widespread urban blight. This article reviews the existing situation and suggests a range of housing policies that could begin to address this particular aspect of Mumbai's myriad problems.

Urban Planning by Objectives

Urban Planning by Objectives Shirish B Patel Urban planning is not an extension of architecture, but requires the co-ordination of a wide variety of skills and inputs. Most importantly, planning is meaningless unless it is firmly linked to implementation. The planner's best course of action is to set the objectives of his plan, and use these to determine policy initiatives. As events occur, and development takes place, new initiatives may be called for, so that the original objectives continue to he pursued. Without such a process of continuous readjustment, in response to a changing environment, the original objectives stand little chance of being realised. After suggesting how the urban planning process should be conducted, the author concludes with the changes in law that are required.

Slum Rehabilitation in Mumbai-Possible If Done Differently

Slum Rehabilitation in Mumbai Possible If Done Differently Shirish B Patel EVERY major public project proposed nowadays in India attracts a knee-jerk reaction of criticism, opposition, hostility. This is because government has lost credibility as a body that in formulating schemes considers its common citizens' interests as paramount. Schemes are seen as furthering the interests of one wealthy group or another. There is doubt as to whether, beyond lip-service, the public interest figures at all among the considerations that are uppermost in formulating a scheme. That said, if we try to take a dispassionate look at the slum rehabilitation scheme of the government of Maharashtra (GoM),1 we find in it a curious mixture of the admirable and the dubious. And the hastily cobbled together. The hastiness in places is such that it throws into question the seriousness of the entire scheme. Let us examine each of these aspects in turn First, the admirable. For the first lime in independent India, a government has recognised slum-dwellers as contributors to the city'sgrowth and prosperity. Inconsequence. GoM acknowledges and accepts two important slum-dwellers' rights: the right to ownership of the land on which they live, and the right to water supply and sanitation Slum-dwellers are seen as worthy citizens, and deserving of these rights. The motivation for all this may well be the garnering of votes. No harm in that, as long as the motivation persists beyond the immediately forthcoming elections Next, the dubious, redeemed by a single Hash of the admirable. GoM's scheme makes two important assumptions: first, that slum- dwellers cannot afford to finance their own buildings, and second, that they cannot manage their own construction. As we shall see, neither of these two assumptions stands up to scrutiny. But to deal with these two supposed problems, GoM's solution is a scheme whereby the city's builders and property developers will organise and carry out the slum reconstruction. Finance will be provided through a Tree-sale component' of buildable area given to builder-developers to attract them to the scheme. The free-sale floor area is roughly equivalent to the floor area set aside for slum-dwellers, which in turn is to be generously provided: 225 sq ft of carpet area per slum household, regardless of size of present accommodation, offered also to pavement-dwellers. In a final, gratuitous flourish, all existing slum improvement programmes, even though some of them have proved successful and are wanted by slum-dwellers, are to be discontinued, on the ground that the new programme is going to be so much better. Cancelling existing successful proven popular programmes, for no reason, seems a clear indicator of fraudulent intentions. Why stop something ltic beneficiaries warn?. Unless we are misreading who the real beneliciaries are.

Marathwada Earthquake-Soft Credit, Soft Appraisal

Marathwada Earthquake Soft Credit, Soft Appraisal Shirish B Patel The Maharashtra government's project for rehabilitating the victims of the Marathwada earthquake is headed towards spectacular failure. And in its unquestioning acceptance of the state governments programme, focusing single-mindedly on how to get it executed, the World Bank seems bent upon abetting the government in spending its money, not wisely but too well Softness, it would seem, is the guiding principle Soft credit, soft appraisal ON September 30, 1993 an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale completely destroyed some villages in the Latur and Osmanabad districts of the Marathwada region in Maharashtra, and severely dam- agedmany more. About 10,000 people died.1 By contrast, the recent Los Angeles earth- quake measured 6.6 on the Richter scale, and 46 people died.2 Unlike Los Angeles, Marathwada has not seen an earthquake for several centuries. Over these years building techniques have evolved into forms completely unsuited to withstanding an earthquake. The population was in no way prepared for what happened. The devastation, both physical and psychological, was enormous.


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