The Urban Question: Issue of Urban Governance
A group of civil society organisations, workers’ collectives, and over two lakh urban poor across India have been deliberating on a citizens’ charter of demands for inclusive and just urban development.
- Citizens’ Charters initiative is a response to the mission for solving the problems which a citizen meets, everyday while dealing with the organisations providing public services.
- The charter is the declaration of commitment to superiority in service to customers of the department.
- India is the largest democracy in the world and citizens here are highly enthusiastic to be a part of Governance. In a democratic system, citizen participation is one of the key components of decision making process.
- The charter conceives of “just and livable cities for all” as an alternative to “smart cities”.
- Smart cities tend to adopt techno-centric models of urbanisation facilitated by unelected entities, such as special purpose vehicles that are dependent on private investments.
- This often results in the participative planning process of urban local bodies (ULBs) being bypassed. On the contrary, the charter pushes for autonomy of the ULBs, capacitating them with funds for proper staffing, regularisation of municipality workers, and entrusting them with decentralised decision-making powers.
- Despite occupying only about 5% of urban land, slum dwellers in cities are labelled as encroachers. These people, who constitute 30% of the population in cities, often live in subhuman conditions without basic services.
- It looks at housing as a fundamental right and proposes to confer land titles on slum dwellers.
- It proposes a zero-eviction policy, in situ slum upgradation programmes that focus not on the number of houses built but also on ownership rights and service provision & self-built houses by city dwellers be recognised also emphasises the need for gender-friendly cities and infrastructure.
- Cities contribute more than 60% to India’s GDP, it advocates that a minimum of 5% of this GDP be used for the development of urban areas, up from the current 1%, through Central schemes.