The phenomenon of urban villages in the Indian context can be viewed from two different perspectives. The first suggests that under the influence of rapid urbanisation and economic development, many urban areas in Indian cities and towns have doubled or tripled in terms of land cover and population. As a result, a large number of traditional rural villages, located in the peripheral areas of cities, have became part of the city’s built up areas. They have been turned into the so-called ‘urban villages’ and examples can be seen across the country – from small towns like Bhiwadi in the National Capital Region, to cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore.
The second is the case of existing urban villages within city limits and includes examples such as Delhi, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. In the case of Delhi, these urban villages also identified as lal dora, are exempted from municipal and building codes. In Navi Mumbai, these urban villages, locally known as gaothans were initially not included in the land acquisition process during the formation of the Navi Mumbai New Town Development Authority Notified Area.
In 2014, the Maharashtra State Government proposed a resolution for Urban Renewal Schemes for gaothans and surrounding areas in the Navi Mumbai Notified Area to regulate unplanned and haphazard development. The scheme relies heavily on voluntary and participatory involvement of eligible inhabitants of gaothans and surrounding areas. It is envisaged that this redevelopment approach will also address unauthorised development of structures owned by the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and other individuals on lands acquired by CIDCO. The proposed redevelopment and regularisation of the existing eligible structures by increasing the floor space index to four must be preceded by an impact assessment study as per the instructions of the High Court of the State of Maharashtra.
A joint research study was initiated by the CIDCO Smart City Lab at NIUA with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, India as per the scope of work suggested by CIDCO. The research study assesses the impact of the redevelopment of gaothans and surrounding areas by increasing the FSI to up to 4 on physical, social infrastructure and other facilities such as parking, open spaces etc. Ten gaothans were studied in detail to map the status quo of the urban villages in Navi Mumbai and re-establish the need for redevelopment, and providing communities with better quality of life and safe neighbourhoods. The infrastructure gap analysis was followed by a financial analysis to assess the economic viability of the scheme with the demonstration of a financial model for the Shelgar* gaothan. The study concludes with guidelines to mitigate the impacts of future developments as part of the reform action plan.
The approach towards redevelopment of urban villages by city governments vary from city to city. It can trigger socio-economic, cultural and housing re-arrangements within these communities. The diversified consequences of physical and social changes can be different for each village. For instance, urban villages in most of the cities are the hub of cheap rental housing for migrant population. Redevelopment in most cases doesn’t include the existing rental households under the rehabilitation and can adversely impact the rental housing market.
Development of gaothans in Navi Mumbai started with change in the land-use of gaothans from agriculture which was the prime source of livelihood for native population to several other urban land uses. The agricultural land was either sold or acquired by government for urban area expansion. Extensive unauthorised developments mushroomed** in the peripheral areas of gaothans reportedly due to housing needs of existing and migrant population. Development of gaothans evolved spatially to provide more housing units, and vary functionally to make available room space for changing demand. The development of gaothans reflects the multiple needs and demands of people that live and work there, and these are related to their formal urban context. As a result, gaothans evolved differently, largely due to their diverse urban contexts, and this shapes a heterogeneous urban village housing market. Human behaviour in different gaothans tends to be diverse in nature as they shift from agricultural production to room-renting and other socio-economic activities.
Research Study report would be made available on this website after the approval of CIDCO.