Saturday, 13 September 2014

Centre prepares concept note on smart cities.

Reference :  Live Mint & The Wall Street Journal
Centre prepares concept note on smart cities.

The new initiative of the new government of 100 smart cities is a smart move to create opportunities for city governments to scale up basic infrastructure.  For once the definition of smart cities is becoming clear and a city that provides efficient basic services such as water, sanitation, roads, and citizen services is considered smart. The mix of cities is also interesting, as it prioritizes state capitals, followed by 2 tier cities and tourist cities.

To a large extent, it sounds like the JnNURM redefined. The goal of improving city governance, infrastructure development all seem to be on the same lines, however without looking at the drafted concept notes, one can only speculate. While the definition of smart cities is emerging,  the definition of smartness of the implementation instruments and infrastructure remains unclear. Though the current government may not want to acknowledge the work done under JnNURM, hopefully the learning from those are considered for the smart city plans,  failing which we will only be forced to accept what is done as another initiative producing piecemeal solutions which sound great for current conditions, but do not account for the futuristic needs of the city.

-- By Vinodkumar Rao

Friday, 12 September 2014


For the first time, on 27-28 August 2014 SPARC participated in Asia NGO exhibition organized by “Live week Business” at World Trade Center, Mumbai. It gave NGOs and corporate a platform to engage with an objective to take NGO mandate and work with large body of corporate and establish tie-ups with them.

SPARC showcased its work in developing community capacity through area resource centers, surveys and enumerations, saving groups and housing and infrastructural projects. The focus was on Sanitation with the theme ‘STOP OPEN DEFECATION’ thus showcasing new designs prepared by Architect Rahul Mehrotra and team (RMA) towards building more efficient community toilet blocks.

About 65 NGOs and 6 to 8 Large Corporate industries participated in this exhibition.  During the exhibition there was also a conference where speakers from Large Corporate and Foundation like MAX India Foundation, Swades Foundation, Sum Foundation, Jindal Steel and Power ltd. TERI etc.  spoke on different themes such as integrated community development into business model, corporate community investment, CSR and sustainable development .There was also a panel discussion on Business and Stakeholder Engagement towards shared value and Social Investments.  The conference was mainly for Corporate and didn’t find any representation from grass root organizations in any of the panels or discussions.
About 60 to 80 individuals visited SPARC’s booth.


Dr. D C Huz, Wockhardt  “Super Work”  
Asma Kathiwalla, Thomson Reuters Foundation “Great Work Hope to work with you soon”        
Ankita Yadav  “Doing good work and helping people to meet their basic needs”                
Susaana Chenar, Gunj  “Hope to work together”              
Shalini Suhalka, BOSCH  “All the best for your Work”        

--By Monali Waghmare

Airport Slum Rehabilitation

The Economic Times 11th September 2014 p8 has an article on the latest developments on the Mumbai airport. Those who know the NSDF and Mahila Milan in India will know that the airport slums federation is a member of the Mumbai slum dwellers federation and has been working since the 1990s to convince the national Airport Authority of India, the State Government of Maharashtra to address the issue of slums long before the redevelopment and privatisation of the airport began.

A decade before,  the federations presented to the NAAI and urban development department of Maharashtra with a powerful presentation of how a slum abutting the runaway was both dangerous to the residents as well cost huge additional fuel with planes having to queue and go around the slum. Over 1200 households were enumerated, the National Airport Authority purchased SRA built tenements from the govt of Maharashtra  and households moved.

After the airport was privatised, the open letter by Jockin Arputham requested the state to dialogue with the organised communities of slum dwellers. The federated leaders position was and continues to be that they are willing to give the airport all the land they need for infrastructure and they would build houses for the slum dwellers in the remaining space. For many years this position was not accepted. Government appointed developers to find land to relocate households but the residents have resisted this and government enumerators have not been allowed to do surveys in slums.

This announcement reflects a change of position, and one that is a way forward. Dialogue negotiations between the state and communities has to be the centre for developing solutions. The poor was reasonable solutions that work for them. They are always amendable to what works for the city and for them.

--- By Sheela Patel