Space of duality : sustainability issues in urbanising villages of Delhi, India
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Resource consumption, as a result of rural-urban transformation, is an important sustainability issue. Sustainability of a city-region can be measured by indicators like ecological footprint. This thesis investigates transformation in resource consumption or use of land, water and fuel and also, the reasons influencing consumption (and thereby ecological footprint), in urbanising villages in Delhi. These reasons are important in determining policy implications contextually. Through existing theory on sustainable development a relevant definition is derived at in the present context, emphasising ‘intelligent use’ of natural resources as an important criteria. The thesis is based on a qualitative research method, while quantitative analysis is also used to show important relationships. The study reveals that the transformation process in urbanising villages involves absence of ‘intelligent use’ of land with regards to equity and distribution of land as a resource. The community resources are most vulnerable to misuse, while the builtup area (abadi) is maximally affected with rapid increase in dwelling numbers and population and thus altering the ecological footprint. Socio-cultural (like local institutions) and spatial conditions (like space or land availability) play strong roles in deciding resources’ use among locals and in-migrants. The overall process of transformation results in a space of duality, where dual nature of resource use and livelihood is predominant. This space creates a marginally lower ecological footprint and offers cultural embedding of the communities, which are considered inherent qualities for promoting sustainability. The present Master planning approach for the city-region fails to acknowledge these qualities of the space of duality and rather puts the rural-urban interface under rural or urban planning and development policies. Such failure results in the formation of another ‘urban village’ in Delhi (which quite contrary to the western realities, is sometimes addressed as slums or even ghettos of Delhi). In such a scenario, as a response, the thesis suggests a ‘convergent planning’ approach, where grass-root level planning is incorporated along with the existing top-down one. Under the proposed rationality of planning for sustainability, planning in rural-urban interface is seen as a reflective and incremental negotiation process. A four-fold relationship between politics (empowering local government), social integration (regenerating social capital), production (restructuring market condition) and ecology (ensuring ‘intelligent use’ of natural resources) is suggested.