Shelter Associates attends RAY Consultation in Bangalore
On 27th & 28th of January 2012 two members of Shelter Associates attended a Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) National Consultation in Bangalore, which was organised by CIVIC BANGALORE (Citizens Voluntary Initiative for the City), Hazards Centre, and INHAF. At the consultation Shelter Associates presented their Integrated Housing and Slum Development Program (IHSDP), which is currently being implemented in Sangli and Miraj under the Government of India's (GOI) Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Shelter Associates suggested to the GOI's Planning Commission representative that the IHSDP in Sangli and Miraj is a better pilot of the GOI's new slum rehabilitation scheme RAY, than the RAY pilot that is currently being piloted in Ward 14 of Pune, because the Shelter Associates project in Sangli and Miraj includes more of the principal of RAY. The RAY Guidelines state that a city-wide holistic approach should be adopted in relation to slum rehabilitation , and that the community should be involved at all stages and that "the attempt to design for the people should be done with the people" (please refer to GOI RAY Guidelines Section 5.2.2 and 5.2.5). All slums within a city should be included within one strategy which, when implemented, should result in all slum dwellers being freed from the risk of eviction. This idea has not been adopted for the RAY pilot in Pune as the 5 slums within the ward have been given to 3 separate NGO's, meaning that no holistic strategy for the ward can be proposed.
Shelter Associates also questioned some of the opinions held by attendees which had little practical application, and asserted the necessity of people with experience in slum rehabilitation attending these consultations as and impractical opinions tend to prevail, such as:
"The relocation of slum dwellers is always bad and should be resisted'"
The land that slums occupy is not owned by the residents of the slums and some say that the slum dwellers should be given the ownership of the land. However, this is not always a good idea as the land might be prone to flooding, it might have development plan reservations associated with it, it might be owned by multiple parties and/or it might be owned privately. Shelter Associates position is that all slum dwellers should be given security of tenure and at the end of a rehabilitation process and should be freed from the risk of eviction and to achieve this two strategies should be adopted. Strategy 1: Slums that are free from flooding, and development plan reservations, and whose ownership can be handed to the slum dwellers should be rehabilitated in-situ to a higher density so that slum dwellers from nearby slums can be accommodated; these slums become 'receiving sites' for nearby slum dwellers who are at risk of eviction. Strategy 2: Slums that are prone to flooding, or have development plan reservations, or are privately owned should be relocated to nearby 'receiving sites'.
This means that relocation is a necessary element of slum rehabilitation and is the reason why a holistic city-wide approach has always been advocated by Shelter Associates; a strategy for the whole urban area must be prepared to ensure that all slum dwellers are freed from the risk of eviction. Relocations are not evictions and with skill, care, community participation and social mobilisation, relocations can be an integral component of a meaningful process of rehabilitation. This has been the case in the IHSDP in Sangli and Miraj where the Sanjay Nagar slum happily and peacefully moved to a transition camp so that the contractor could commence construction on the houses that all members of the Sanjay Nagar community want.
"Only BSUP service upgrades should be considered"
The Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) is often cited as the best way to address the situation in slums. Shelter Associates accept BSUP as a temporary measure because it addresses issues of health and hygiene because the slums get connected to the municipal water, sanitation, waste and power systems. However; the BSUP approach, as it has been implemented in Pune (Maharashtra), fails to address the fundamental issue of ownership; at the end of a BSUP scheme slum dwellers are still exposed to the risk of eviction. The BSUP approach also fails to address the issue of access and egress in the event of a fire and the issues associated with natural light and ventilation. Under BSUP model of slum rehabilitation the footprint of the existing houses tends to remain too narrow to provide access for fire fighters, or adequate natural light or natural ventilation. Shelter Associates feel that these narrow streets put an unsustainable (and unnecessary) financial burden on the slum dwellers as homes are required to be artificially lit and artificially ventilated. And, as slums dwellers can opt out of a BSUP scheme it is debatable to what extent this approach can address the health and hygiene issues in a slum anyway.