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India, 14 Political parties, 150 organisations sign charter for ‘liveable cities, not smart cities

Civil societies have prepared a charter of demands in which urban livelihood issues like housing, jobs, migration, sanitation, safe drinking water, mobility and sustainability is one of the demands.

Urban issues such as these are not considered political and not spoke of by many political parties which is why a group of people from different parts of the country including 150 civil society organizations, activists, scholars, urban workers’ collective got together and presented their charter of demands for Inclusive and Just urban development to active political parties.

The citizen’s charter has been already been endorsed by14 parties including INC, CPI (M), TDP, NCP, RJD, AAP, TMC, NC, DMK and CPI to name a few.

Evita Das, Independent Urban researcher, who has also contributed to the preparation of the charter, told TwoCircles.net, All the 12 demands mentioned in the charter of demands are very important to have a just, inclusive livable city.”

“But the highlights would be ‘Right to housing and land title for slums’ which is to provide land titles to the slum dwellers to protect their interests.” She added.

More than 30% of India’s population in cities lives in slums that are bereft of basic amenities. And in contrast they are occupying only 5% of the land but still referred to as land encroachers.

The other 2 highlights in the charter of demands are the zero-eviction policy. The cut-off dates set up the regressive Government policies to determine the legal status of the settlements should go. These policies drive the poor to the outskirts of the city rendering them homeless furthering marginalizing the poor.

The other main demand is the implementation of the 74th  Constitutional amendment Act (CAA) that confers autonomy to the Urban Local Bodies (ULB). The Urban local bodies should be capacitated with funds and staff so that urban planning is localized and there is transparency.

The charter also demands allocation of gender budgeting to address the lack of representation from Dalit Bahujan women. And protection of informal workers who have migrated to cities through social security schemes such as healthcare, maternity benefits and pensions should be extended to the migrant workers as well who form part of the urban populace.

Evita Das says, “Smart Cities or the SPV model has worked against the urban poor. The SPV (Special purpose Vehicle) model aimed at creating smart cities has bypassed the 74 CAA ignoring the local bodies. We are demanding that ULB’s should be at the helm of the development planning and the SPV model should go”.

The SPV and ULB are supposed to have 50:50 equity shareholdings but it has not happened.

Through this charter of demands the urban poor and the 2 lakh individuals who have drawn the demands are promoting a gender just inclusive society with sustainable growth thus giving Indian cities a new design that makes them both liveable and smart.


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