This chapter looks at state initiatives to address the issue of poor housing in urban areas. Three major central legislative enactments, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission/Basic Services to Urban Poor (JNNURM/ BSUP), Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), are outlined. This provides the backdrop to a discussion of the implementation of BSUP and RAY in Bangalore city. It should be noted that both JNNURM/BSUP and RAY have been discussed widely in both policy and academic forums. Much of this discussion has been in the nature of surveys to examine resource allocations, targets and achievements by counting projects and beneficiaries. Some studies have looked at the role of urban local bodies (ULBs), designed to have played a catalytic role in raising finance and in execution of housing projects. The emphasis in this chapter is on understanding the broader politics that surround the process of implementation of housing projects, and, importantly, the impact of projects and processes on the lives of slum dwellers.
The chapter draws on field-based research on housing projects in Bangalore city, looking at three spaces: slum development based on in situ housing; relocation of slums; and slums where housing projects could not be undertaken due to local resistance. The study reveals some important microfeatures of poor housing projects.
First, the state, through housing projects, provides to slum dwellers renewable leases for new apartments, which is meant to ensure protection from soaring rents and eviction. These, however, do not provide a sale deed or property rights. The projects, in this sense, have bypassed long-standing demands of the urban poor for right to land (Benjamin 2008, 2011; RoyChowdhury 2008, 2012). The projects have also ignored slum dwellers’ long-expressed demand for ‘land-to-sky’ rights on land (that is, right to own a piece of land and to build vertically on it) and their resistance to the idea of small apartments in multi-storey buildings which do not address their need to use housing for livelihood as well as for large and expanding families.
Second, the housing projects typically provide small accommodations, without the necessary and promised related infrastructure, thus bringing little change to the generally low quality of life in slums. State-sponsored housing projects were therefore, to a great extent, distanced from the actual needs and demands of slum dwellers for land rights, water, sanitation, stable supply of power, schools, anganwadis and health centres.