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Poor excluded in Abad’s urban development model: study

Ahmedabad:  The development model implemented in the city shows a “shift” from inclusive growth to creation of global cities marked by capital-intensive projects that often “neglects” the concerns of poor people, a new study has claimed.

The research done by UK-based non-governmental institute Overseas Development Institute (ODI), however, has praised urban local bodies of the city in pro-active planning for urban expansion in comparison to other Indian cities.

“Ahmedabad demonstrates a number of characteristics of smart growth through proactive planning for urban expansion to minimise the impact of the expanding urban population. This has helped create a more compact urban area with a much lower sprawl than cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune, which have similar populations,” the study said.

Titled ‘Towards a better life? A cautionary tale of progress in Ahmedabad’, the study by a group of three researchers, has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The report draws “loopholes” in Sabrmati Riverfront Development Programme and Bus Rapid Transport project, where in poor citizens were the “sufferers” in the bid to achieve fast growth.

“In case of Ahmedabad, there has been an increasing control by the state government – with a stronger focus on attracting private investment at the cost of involving communities. This goes to the heart of what is meant by ‘development’ in developing countries,” the report claimed.

“In case of Ahmedabad, and indeed in much of urban India, there has been a shift in the conception of development from inclusive growth to creation of global cities marked by capital-intensive projects, such as the the Sabarmati Riverfront project, that often neglects the concerns of poor people,” it said.

“The USD 242 million project to beautify and reclaim Sabarmati River’s east bank epitomises the new approach,” it said.

“River pollution was reduced. However expensive new land was sold off to private developers and 10,000 slum households were relocated to the periphery of the city amid deep community opposition,” it added.

The study was conducted to know how the urbanisation has been made in terms of material well-being, environment and political voice in the context of urbanisation over the past 20 years in Ahmedabad, and in particular how has it impacted poor people of the city.

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