Srinath Perur ~ Story Of Cities #11: The Reclamation Of Mumbai – From The Sea, And Its People?

Of all the ways in which Mumbai has been called a city of dreams, at least one is literal. It is sometime in the late 18th century, and the engineers of the East India Company in Bombay are losing a battle against the sea. They’re dumping boatloads of stone into Worli creek to build an embankment, but it has collapsed once and it collapses again.

That’s when an engineer named Ramji Shivji Prabhu has a dream: the goddess Mahalakshmi and two others inform him their stone idols lie submerged in the creek. Can some space be made for them on land? Prabhu has them fished out and installed in a shrine built nearby on land gifted by the administration. The wall holds.

This story was found in a bakhar, a Marathi literary form that recounts colourful histories, and may seem a little fanciful for our times. But that embankment – the Hornby Vellard, completed in 1784 – was very real and can be said to have given shape to the modern city of Mumbai (the official name since 1995). It was built at the initiative of William Hornby, then governor of Bombay, and over the next few decades was followed by the construction of causeways to link the seven islets separated by sea and swamp.

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Yaminay Chaudhri ~ Anxious Public Space (A Preface)

What is the city but the people?” asks the opening sentence of the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) website. The sentence – originally from Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus – expresses a sentiment appropriate for this government-owned public benefit corporation, tasked with running and maintaining the master plan of the capital city of Pakistan. Upon researching the CDA’s establishment, I discovered a lineage of military leadership starting with General Ayub Khan and the organisation’s first chairman, General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, who defined the charter of this organisation and its role in building Islamabad. This essay provides a preface to a longer discussion about public space in Pakistan by analysing perceptions of the ideal city, in popular and official discourse.

On a sweltering July day in Islamabad this year, images of bulldozers, riot gear, and protesting men, women and children dragged from their homes in a katchi abadi,poured into news circuits and social media. The CDA announced a successful removal of all illegal occupants from sector I-11, who posed (among other things) security threats and sanitation risks to the city. It is almost tragic that a government institution tasked with representing the ‘people’ of a city, could be responsible for the eviction of thousands of them from their homes, with no alternatives for resettlement.

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Laura Bliss & Aarian Marshall ~ How High-Tech Maps Could Help Urban Slums Plan Better Streets

In slums, buildings are often so densely packed that many are cut off from streets and pathways. This creates a literal roadblock to much-needed public resources.

“In South Africa, governments will often say that informal settlements are too dense to install adequate services,” Charlton Ziervogel, deputy director at the Communities Organization Resource Centre, a Cape Town-based slum advocacy and support NGO, tells CityLab. “So you’ll find municipalities that install toilets, but only at the edge of a settlement, because they perceive that there is no space inside.”

It’s a serious matter. Across the global south, hundreds of millions live in slums lacking piped water, proper drainage, and sanitation—ideal breeding grounds for virus-carrying insects and other types of disease. To fight epidemics such as Zika, experts warn, living conditions for the urban poor must be improved. But to do so, many slum communities first need to open up space.

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Bookmark and Share ~ Zambian Women Have Their Say



The majority of the Zambian population who live off of less than a dollar a day are women. Through the Mama Sosa project, 30 Zambian women were trained in how to use media to shed light on their everyday challenges.

Mama Sosa means “Woman speak!” in the local Bemba dialect. The main share of the Zambian population who live off of less than 1 dollar a day are women. This makes them the largest marginalised group in the country. And their situation is even worse in the slums of Lusaka, home to 80% of the capital’s population. Here, women not only have to deal with poverty, but are also exposed to crime and prostitution-related violence on a daily basis.

The local media barely pay attention to these issues. According to Free Press Unlimited’s Programme Coordinator Nada Josimovic, women in Zambia are seen as second-rate citizens. As a consequence, they hardly have any opportunities to have their say: “If the media pay attention to women at all, they are usually treated in a very stereotypical manner.”

In the small-scale pilot project Mama Sosa, Free Press Unlimited worked together with the Zambian youth organisation House of Consciousness (HOC) to improve women’s situation in the capital. Nada Josimovic enthusiastically tells us about the project’s unexpected success.

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Shanu ~ How Rent Control Act Hurts Delhi Tenants & Landlords Alike

dehli post.jagran.omData show that nearly half of Delhi’s population lives in slums or unauthorised colonies. Among various other reasons, the Delhi Rent Control Act, which has been challenged in the Delhi High Court recently, is responsible for the present state of affairs. The Act, its critics claim, hurts the interests of landlords and tenants in equal measures. Landlords in the national capital’s central locations such as the City Zone, the Sadar, Paharganj Zone, Karol Bagh Zone and Civil Lines do not pay house tax because their earnings from these rent-controlled properties are meagre. Tenants of such properties also refrain from paying taxes because they fear that the property will fall out of the rent control regime if they pay the tax. Apart from making housing expensive, rent control laws are also the reason why many buildings in Delhi are poorly maintained.

However, Delhi’s experience is not unique. Throughout the world, rent control laws make housing expensive and hurt the interests of landlords and tenants, especially the low-income households. Unlike other Asian countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan which became prosperous as they made housing affordable by repealing rent control laws. In fact, rent control laws were imposed in most countries during the World War-II but were either repealed or mellowed over the next few decades. In Delhi, where the Rent Control Act was imposed in 1939, the law went through an evolution till 1959, but did not undergo major changes.

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Emily Badger ~ How To Make Expensive Cities Affordable For Everyone Again



Last week, we wrote about a new report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office that found that poorer neighborhoods that have added more market-rate housing in the Bay Area since 2000 have been less likely to experience displacement. The idea is counterintuitive but consistent with what many economists theorize: Build more housing, and the cost of it goes down. Restrict housing, and the cost of it rises. If you’re a struggling renter, you’re better off if there’s more housing for everyone.

Many readers responded by saying “of course! supply and demand!” as if we’d just uncovered the obvious. Many others responded “of course! supply and demand!” — by which they meant, facetiously, that market dynamics clearly don’t work this way in neighborhoods like the Mission in San Francisco, where poor residents feel pushed out by tech workers moving in.

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