- Conflicts in Land and Housing Markets in Kolkata: Emergence of a Divided City   click here to open paper content1262 kb
by    Mitra, Sheuli & Mitra, Tapas | sheulimitra@spabhopal.ac.in   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This research investigates reasons of conflicts between social sustenance
and economic viability of urban housing projects in Kolkata, India. It
traces the transition of housing from social sector to private sector, and
its impact on urban land markets, which has consequently resulted in the
emergence of a divided city.
The population of India in 2011 stands at 1.21 billion, of which 31.16% is
urban, translating to around 377 million people living in urban India. In
the last decade from 2001 to 2011, the urban population has grown by an
estimated 90 million and the country[simplequote]s rate of urbanization has
increased from 27.81% to 31.16% in the same period. Additionally, urban
India had a total housing requirement of 26.53 million housing units in
2012, as estimated by Government sources. 99% of this housing pertains to
the lower income groups of population. Government sources also estimate the
total number of houses constructed in urban India as 14.34 million in the
10 years since 2002-2012. The housing gap is appalling and the dilemma of
providing the basic need of shelter to an inordinately large segment of
urban population unable to afford housing, is perhaps the biggest challenge
of Indian cities.
Till the mid nineties, the onus of providing urban infrastructure and
housing in India had been solely on the Government. Since then, with the
liberalization of the economy, the private sector has been included as a
partner in housing construction and infrastructure development and
consequently the economic models of development have undergone a shift from
socialist to capitalist models. The private sector with access to larger
capital markets, brought numbers and improved quality to urban housing.
However, the non-inclusive nature of most of the privately developed
projects, which came with a price unaffordable to many, led to the
paradoxical situation of increasing the housing gap in urban India,
particularly in the lower income groups. The basic purpose of the neo-
liberal policies stands defeated with the commodification of urban housing
making the basic requirement of a shelter unreachable for many.
There has been considerable work in housing and land markets undertaken by
World Bank, specifically in developing nations. A large body of research by
Alain Bertaud, former Principal Urban Planner in the Urban Development
Division of World Bank, correlating the areas of land markets, land use
regulations and urban form, forms the basis of this research. The economic
dimension of private sector participation as against the government
agencies is taken as an added factor, to analyse the impact on urban city
form. The extensive use of GIS techniques to analyse key spatial issues,
developed by Bertaud has been applied in this research as well as the basic
tool to track temporal and spatial changes in the city structure.
This paper focuses on the dynamics of urban land and housing situated in
the present context of urbanization, taking up the case of the metropolitan
city of Kolkata. The research uses tools of GIS mapping and satellite
imagery to track the extent and typology of urban housing and township
development in the city peripheries in the last few decades. Cases of
townships are discussed, developed both by the government agencies and by
the private sector, to analyse the differences in the economic viability
models of the two, the resulting target segments benefitted, as well as the
spatial quality of these projects and amenities provided by them. The
differing economic perspectives of the government and the private sector
are compared. The role of government regulations and laws related to urban
land are also discussed to analyse their impact on land markets and
consequently the emerging urban development pattern.
The outcome of the research outlines the dynamics of land and housing
markets and their impact on emerging city form and structure. The creation
of the divided city as a result of an enabling policy framework is a
paradox which has been attempted to be explained.
housing markets
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