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Does Delhi's Drive to be a World-Class City Doom Low-Income Communities?

A proposal for a vertical neighborhood in Delhi is long on height but short on insight, according to Greg Randolph of the American India Foundation. Is Delhi ‘poised to repeat the public housing mistakes of the West’?
May 23, 2013, 10am PDT | dsmolker
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“Like many neighborhoods in Delhi,” writes Randolph, Govindpuri “developed organically, outside the formal planning regime, and faces problems of infrastructure.” Poor sanitation, lack of access to potable water, and few standards for the structural safety of housing all suggest the need for redevelopment with community consultation, a standard adopted in 2009 by the national Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

A new proposal from the Delhi Development Authority, however, forgoes community consultation to envision a high-rise solution to slum redevelopment: 5,000 housing units ascending 17-stories, a vertical neighborhood disruptive of the long-established patterns of economic and social transaction occurring at the street-level in Govindpuri. Such a proposal, which Randolph cites as being environmentally and economically unsustainable to boot, is said to set a perilous precedent for slum redevelopment across India in ways that may sound similar to those familiar with the outdated urban renewal schemes undertaken in the West.

Rather than seek a comprehensive quick fix, Randolph urges Delhi and the DDA to become more immersed in solutions to slum redevelopment that “have evolved out of a decades-old dialectic between governments, communities, and designers,” and to let community consultation lead the way toward a “world-class” urban form.

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Published on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 in The Global Urbanist
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