Development of Peri-urban areas around Indian Cities

Development of Peri-urban areas around Indian Cities

Purpose of the Roundtable:

As the cities grow and expand the peri-urban areas become part of the cities and new peri- urban areas are formed. This phenomenon in India is creating severe problems in terms of infrastructure delivery resulting into inheritance of physical underdevelopment. In comparison to the enormous growth and environmental stress these peri-urban areas absorb, by virtue of their spatial adjacency to city proper, their own conditions are dismal. There is lack of identity and proper planning and management across all sectors of governance, finance and infrastructure delivery. However these peri-urban fringes also have huge potential as they will be the future urban areas. This situation calls for in-depth understanding of the challenges and opportunities these peri-urban areas harbour. There is need to identify the areas of innovation required to transform these urban fringes. This roundtable is aimed at looking into these issues and finally come up with the possible strategic research areas needed to make these peri-urban areas self-sustaining.

C-USE, IIT Bombay had organized a roundtable discussion on “Peri urban areas around Indian cities” on July 1st, 2014 at IIT Bombay. The guest speakers were Prof. R.N. Datta from IIT Kharagpur and Dr. Ratoola Kundu from TISS, Mumbai. The discussion aimed at understanding the issues and identifying ‘Strategic Research Areas’ in the Peri urban areas. Participants in the round table are

1) Guest Speakers

2) C-USE Faculty

3) Prof. M.V. Khire – CSRE, IIT Bombay

4) PhD Research Scholars from C-USE, Civil Engineering & HSS

Guest Speakers:

The round table session was chaired by Prof. R.N. Datta, IIT Kharagpur. He has been teaching in IIT Kharagpur since last 40 years and had played an important role in planning of new town of ‘Rajarhat’ located to the north east of Kolkata.

He shared his invaluable experience of planning Rajarhat town and the issues related to Peri urban areas with the faculty and students of C-USE.
Prof. Datta mentioned that, with the increasing population in peri urban areas of the cities, the stress of managing and financing of infrastructure services in these areas is increasing. Accentuation of inequalities in urban areas has created mainly two types of urban structures within Indian urban areas. One, which tends to support a life style equivalent to that of any developed country and the other that is marked by the poor quality of life strongly exhibited in the unhygienic dilapidated conditions. In peri urban areas also there is a growing demand of increased quality of infrastructure by the relatively higher income urbanites, while there is lack of even basic services for the poor. Increasing amount of unskilled labour is losing hold on their land because of changing land uses in peri urban areas. They are mainly drawn in to the unorganized sector primarily in low productivity self-employment. Projects like JNNURM, aim to improve access to basic services and support an enabling environment for economic growth has been implemented within urban areas by urban local bodies and not in peri-urban areas as they in general are under Panchayats whose major function is planning for economic development and social justice and implementing these plans as per the 73rd amendment of the Constitution. The Panchayats are unable to be met the overwhelming demand of services in these areas, due to limitations of finance and lack of capacity for planning and managing the required infrastructure. For example, most Panchayats lack capacity to deal with solid waste management, the most pressing issue in Peri urban areas. These areas not only receive solid waste from the core city but its own generated waste also is not managed. Prof. Datta suggested that there should be provision of expansion of services in the city plans to provide access to basic services to peri urban residents. Schemes like PURA and JNNURM should be especially modified to include support for uplifting infrastructure in peri urban areas. He emphasized on the need for a technical agency to support the peri urban panchayats in planning and implementing infrastructure. With the growing urban economy it is expected that peri-urban areas will change to urban areas at accelerated rates, which calls for innovative planning, regulations, technology, design, financing options and delivery that are incremental and maintainable.

The second speaker, Dr. Ratoola Kundu from TISS, Mumbai, gave her talk on her research that was based ontransformations occurring in peri urban areas of Kolkata. She spoke about two types of transformations that happen in peri urban areas, ‘built environment’ and ‘lived environment’. She brought into our knowledge about the changes that happen in the occupation and social structure of residents due the landuse transformations. The existing dwellers take up informal occupation, due to lack of skills and loss of their land to developers in the upcoming peri urban areas. There is change in consumption of goods and a contest for natural resources due to sudden change in ownership and connection to the their land. This results in total transformation of the social fabric of the area. Females start working and new unskilled livelihood opportunities come up due to coming up of organized sector like IT industries. Dr Kundu also discussed about the rise in crime and corruption in peri urban areas. According to Land acquisition act, the acquired land cannot be sold as free hold but leased, this results to illegal ways to support sale of this land. Building permissions are currently under Panchayat, therefore there is obvious resistance to change these areas into ‘urban’ area status. Thus, she insists urban planners to view peri urban areas beyond a geographic unit and should be looked as a process. A different analytical construct and innovative planning is required to look into urban rural issues.

Roundtable Discussion – Strategic Research Areas

During the discussions, some of the solutions that came up were

  • The need for parameterization of peri-urban areas for their identification
  • Provisioning of special vehicles for financing and management for the basic services.
  • There is also a need of increasing awareness among local people about the natural resources
  • Instilling the sense of belongingness to the common resources of the area.
  • Provision of incremental services both social and physical infrastructure will help to tackle the growing needs of the area.

The results of the discussions are summarized in Table 1, identifying key strategic areas for research as shown below:


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    Prof. Ronita Bardhan has been awarded the fellowship for "Building Energy Efficiency Higher & Advanced Network (BHAVAN)" by the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, and the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum(IUSSTF).