GBGB: National Strategy Meet on Metro Project - 5
Duration: 00:41:13; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 152.623; Saturation: 0.044; Lightness: 0.527; Volume: 0.230; Cuts per Minute: 2.377; Words per Minute: 134.705
A 2 day long National Strategy Meet on Metro Projects was held at Ajmera Hall, Mumbai. The meet was attended by representative activists, academicians, environmentalists, transport experts, architects etc from 7 cities including Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Thane, Delhi, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad etc.
The Meet was held in the context of the announcement of Metro Projects to be introduced in 26 cities with proposed investment of 1 lakh crore rupees. The meet was inaugurated by lighting "mashal", flame of struggle, by veteran freedom fighter Shri Ajmera, Prof. Swapana Banerjee Guha, Kathiayani Chamraj (CIVIC-Bangalore), Smt Geeta (Metro Yard Hatao Abhiyan-Mumbai) amidst slogans.
Prof Swapana Banerjee Guha delivering the inaugural speech threw light on the policies and programmes of today's governments that are pushing ahead the neo-liberal agenda leading to dispossession of people off their rights, land-livelihoods & lives.
It was also recognised that Metro project implementation must be part of a planned process per law. It was widely acknowledged that all Metros in all cities of India are being implemented in blatant violation of this process. There was serious concern that Metro projects are being implemented without careful consideration of the financial, economic, environmental and social impacts. A detailed analysis of the Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore experiences helped draw the conclusion that such mega projects are being rushed through without any careful review whatsoever.
National Strategy Meet
White shirt: But in this age also even now, (?) that they do till now, father and son, and they are not hesitant to work. All these people together are the humans of this age. These devices meant to make him intelligent are manufactured by us. Taking them also, we can make our (?). No one can live without development. This is my personal opinion. Whatever development of ours has to happen, and especially in metropolitan cities; we cannot live properly without development. Development has to happen. But I want to say one thing. I have come here to listen. I didn't mean to do any contribution from my side. But, in a society... now as all these people have said, that we are from amongst those people going against the Metro. But I don't know how far they are right. Because I don't believe that we are opposing the Metro. The Metro should develop properly by disturbing as few people as possible- this is going to be their programme, I believe. When I'll hear their details (I will understand). As sister Medha said, that 75% people were going to be displaced, we did the work of saving them. So there is no opposition to Metro, in what way should the Metro develop, that is should happen with proper planning, in which few people should face inconvenience, that is what I feel.
White shirt: So, this work of opposition by the media in the society, we should be a little careful about it. This is just my suggestion. None of us are against it. But with any kind of planning, and getting people involved in it- people should listen to what they have to do. And in doing that they should be given justice. We should go in the direction in which we will develop. Sister, you should explain this to the media, it is very necessary. We don't oppose everything. But we oppose that which is wrong. Work should happen in a proper manner. Just this is my suggestion.
Medha Patkar: So there should be a strict and long discussion on what exactly is the Metro. Its alternatives, and the Metro, and how far will it go and not go till it's final objectives, from here to it's societal and environmental effects, and in that this effect is included. That is all inclusive of development.
White shirt: That is one of the parts I mean.
Medha Patkar: We will look into all that now. After the introduction of Mr. Gosalkar...
Ravindra Gosalkar: My name is Ravindra Gosalkar. I am connected with both the familes, the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao as well as the NAPM family and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha family. In this way I am connected with both the families in a very close manner because I am in trade union activities. And our office that is there of NAPM.. I am connected with Hind Mazdoor sabha.. it is affiliated to Hind Mazdoor Sabha... Krishna (?). Our office is there itself. It is related there. From there the youth activities take off. Our union activities are there, but these activities of the Metro, the activities of the Ghar Bachao Ghar Bano Andolan- they are paid attention to. As I get time, I participate in them. And I don't have much knowledge about the Metro, but the experts coming here and whatever they will say, we should form our opinion on that basis. I have come here for that. Thank You.
Medha Patkar: Two things have been just balaned by us now. One is an article by Mr. Ramchandrian Iyer and one is a letter which both have economic and political interviews. People who have come from outside and if they have not got the article, please share it in a group. I feel those who have come may please introduce themselves.
Mr. Mahashakti: My name is Maurya Mahashakti. And I work with (?). And the name of my settlement is Ankurbai where almost 12,000 people stay. That settlement was demolished. And as a result of the movement we are fighting for it. I am desiring for my land to be given on my name by the government. But I will keep on going on with the movement.
Medha Patkar: I guess we will start now. This was supposed to happen in the middle but we did it first. Because they are people who have come from the suburbs and we are using this place for the first time. It is nor easy to reach Dadar and Azad Maidan straight. So now we will start. Please help to arrange the chairs here again.
Simpreet: One round of the discussion that has happened, and the conclusion that was derived after that, and from there to now to give advice... (CUT). With that I will request Smt. Swapna Guha Banerjee that she may please come on the stage. With that I will request Mr. Ramachandran Iyer from Hyderabad, that he too may please come on the stage and take a seat. Friends, all of us who have come over here, we all know why we have come here. And this programme that we are going to have for two days, it is not just a seminar of a discussion, but it is a strategy meet. It will include discussions, but the experiences that will be derived from these discussions, the experts who represent the country, who are people who work with people, their experiences that are there, specially the Metro and alternatives of transport, the experiences we are getting from them, from those experiences how we can understand a project like Metro, and going ahead from that, if there are any faults in the Metro, understanding those faults, in what way there are different alternatives of transport, be it pedestrian, be it cycling, be it a rickshaw driver, be it BRTS or all the means that are there of public transport, how a national strategy can be made about them, this point can be taken ahead.
14.1 percent of Delhi's cycle-rickshaw drivers sleep on the footpath, says a study by Lokayan (ed. Rajendra Ravi, The Saga of Rickshaw: Identity, Struggle and Claims, CSDS and Vak, 2006). A steady demand for cycle rickshaws has emerged around Metro stations in some areas of the city, but the Metro's yawning purge has also led to displacement, eating up existing slum clusters and banishing their residents to newer, further 'outskirts' of the city.
Simpreet: Because now, even when the introductions were happening, then, different people gave a different impression of different cities. So today throughout the day there will be a detailed talk about it, presentations will be done. The literature that has been given to you, the facts that emerge from it, it shows that when you talk about transport, then, when transport starts, then it is from walking on foot to airplanes. But all those alternatives that are there, leaving them aside, there has been focus only and only on Metro. And one of the biggest examples of this is when the Congress government has been elected in the Center, then they have made this big announcement that in the next 5 years atleast in 26 cities Metro project will be started. Of that they have inaugurated it in 6 cities and gone ahead with it too. Of them Delhi was way ahead from a lot of years, following that is Mumbai, after Mumbai, Chennai has been started, talks are going on in Cochin, talks are on about Ahmedabad, it is being pushed ahead in Pune too.
Simpreet: And where it is heading is that all the projects that are there of Metro till now, investment of 85,000 crores has happened in that or it is going to happen. With that in the past few days, the head of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Mr. Shridharan, his statement has come saying that we will have to do an investment of 1 lakh crore in the Metro. So friends when it is the question of so many lakhs and crores, all those who are related with this point, they must be knowing that this Metro is not just an alternative to transport. So with this if we see an example of Delhi, then the way in which the face of the whole of Delhi has been changed because of the Metro, the transformation that has been done of the city of Delhi, starting from the demolishing of the hutments, to the other transport options then be it of cycling or rickshaw drivers, they have been thrown out.
Simpreet: And with the advent of Metro, the built up area that is there, the neighbouring areas that were there, the changes that have happened in there- it can be seen from the huge shopping malls in Itrasi, the big township complexes- they are coming in accompaniment with the Metro Rail. It can be seen from this that when we talk about urban space, the whole urban space is being changed by it. And the working class the hardworking people that are there, they are being displaced from there because of this. Their jobs are being taken away because of this. And the major part of the nation's budget that is there, it is being pushed only and only on this. And because of this it has become an issue of concern and worry. It can be seen in cities that houses are being demolished. And all those people who used to go about their work which doesn't only include street peddlers, those who had their big showrooms, there were shops there, those who were running their shops for 60-70 years, they too are being displaced as a result of this.
Simpreet: And, if I have to say a little, then wherever the Metro is coming up, then that which is coming in accompaniment with it, it is meant to change the entire town planning. As the talk is going on in cities that by increasing the FSI, it is being made more than 1-4. By that the whole town planning principles that are there, they are being kept aside in a way. From all sides this question is being risen that if the Metro has to be done then is this the only way? And if not then what can be the alternatives to it? And then if it has to be stopped then which steps will we have to adopt for that? Because all the people who have come here are involved in this struggle with all their heart. They have understood that. So those people are going to guide us in this. And there will be an attempt to make a common strategy here. So more people from Mumbai will come and get involved in this. But not waiting for them, we will go ahead with this programme. And for that I will first request Smt. Swapna Guha Banerjee...who... as she said, is a profesor of Tata Institute of Social Sciences. And who not only deals with urban issues but she plays a role in the whole process of development. They are related with Swapna. Hence she has a deep relation with politics. So as it is given in the schedule... the economic reforms and the thoughts that are there about development, and how neo liberalism is being pushed ahead with these projects, she will talk about this in front of us.
Swapna Banerjee: I am Swapna Banerjee Guha. And I thank the organizers for giving me this opportunity to share my views on neo liberalism. So anyway it is neo liberalism. I thought that if we see our dialectics in such a manner that if we take a particular approach and discuss it then we should place that particular in a general framework. And I will try to give you that general framework. And the general framework by bringing forth all these policies. Because this is very important. Why do we have to think now that now displacement has happened a lot since the past few years. But then why the government brings together so many projects in the whole country? Actually in the whole world. There is definitely some framework behind this. There is definitely some political or economic reason behind this. Those who bring this up, those who have formed the government, and those whom the government gets along- the capital, the global capital- if we have some discussion about that, then probably it will help us. That is what I thought. Simpreet, how much time? Half an hour? Yeah?
Swapna Banerjee: I am sure that all of you work in different places. It is not so that all of you purely study. That is not necessary. Sometimes you can connect theory that is alongwith practice. We can all connect that. But I will try to bring some things in limelight. Since, after 1973, in the whole of PTV the talk of a new city has come up which we call neo urbanization. And the time when it had come, when this talk of a new city had come, what was this time? If we go to see, the we can connect from the starting itself. This was the time when the Bretton wood system, in which there was an idea of the Welfare state, where there was some work of the welfare state, all of this has started to decline. This was the time when neo liberalism had come along and come in the front. Because the reaction that was there of capitalist accumulation in the world, there had started a change in that reaction. Because the capitalist countries could see that the old systems by which they used to work, it had become difficult to work that way. Because resistance comes from all parts of the world, they raise their voice. Hence it was necessary to make a change in its form too. This was the time when they started co-opting the governments of different countries with them.
Swapna Banerjee: They came up in many different areas. They came up in environments. They had come in the planning of the cities. And when we will go into discussing the transport in the planning of the cities; it is a very big part because infrastructure becomes a very big part of it to make this new urban growth possible. Alongwith this, what has now become a problem theoretically and practically a problem in front of us is that of neo liberalism. It gave a face to it in which they started moulding properly. But what is this neo liberalism,if we happen to ask that? Then you see that in the places that you are working, you will be able to relate because its characteristics are..the welfare state went behind, it was put behind the stage. But it was not made absolutely unnecessary. A new role was made for it. And that role was of a facilitator, a friend of the market. That is what the State started becoming- a friend of the market. Then we will see that the neo liberal state became the servant of the market. This is the first phase of neo liberalism.
Swapna Banerjee: Second is, all the problems that were there, to bring the market in the front, those problems were removed according to the policy. Meaning, framing policy removed those problems. Third was, jobs were attacked in the organized sector. Because this was also one more part of the changing face of capitalist accumulation. Outsourcing started on a great scale. It was not that outsourcing did not happen before. It used to happen for sure. If you see the Bata Shoe Company in our country, Bata Shoe Company is there for many years. The moulds of the shoes used to be made in Faridabad. Bata did not itself make the shoes in the monsoons. It just had the seal of Bata. This usage of the unauthorized sector was started by the capitalists past many years. But from this time a very amusing framework of it had started. That was that from one point of view it was very modern, it kept in its hand the working class which was very less in number. And on the other side, in many parts of the world and in many parts of the country, the unorganized sector or working class which is there, was used. And doing production of the same type.
Swapna Banerjee: One part of the production would be run my the modern worker and the other part of the production would be run by the other unorganized sector. If I give you examples then you have many examples. See, these fan-manufacturers that are there, TV-manufacturers that are there- all of them- Where are the fans of Morphy made? The Morphy fans are made outside. Where are the bulbs of Philips made? The Philips bulbs are made outside. But Philips puts its seal and brings it in the market. So we will have to understand this that this is a strategy of the capital. And more, of powerful capital.. which.. whole..global capital.
Swapna Banerjee: Next issue is, the democratic rights which have been earned by our people since so many years, which have been adopted, have been let down and kept aside. And if people can talk about democratic rights, if they want to talk about them, then he should be told that it is against the State. I want to give you one example, for many years these people are disturbed by what happens in Lalgarh and in the forests. Since November they have come in the limelight when Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was attacked. And after the two small kids were arrested, after that it has come in the limelight. But if we go to see, that what used to happen in the forests of Lalgarh was since many years-marginalization of the adivasis...since many years. Mahashweta Devi has written a lot about it. But what is happening since 7 days now, this neo liberal state that is there, it has a very good strategy. What did those people do? Those people joined the adivasi and Mao movements. Now there is a lot of confusion in the minds of people as to who used to do a movement in a republic manner who used to be lead by Chattradhar Mahato, and who.. it does not mean that I am against the Maoist party, definitely not. But there are some forms which we should think about and discuss.
Swapna Banerjee: But what happened now, the coming together of the State government and Central Government and sending of the military, to whom? This question is in everybody's mind. And last night Chattradhar Mahato openly said we will have to save ourselves from both. We will have to save ourselves from the military and from the Maoist movement. Because that republican movement that is there, it goes against that too. So all these questions are connected. Metro too is related with this. Metro is a part of this neo liberal policy. The neo liberal policy that is there in India, that neo liberal policy is associated with the entire neo liberal regime. This I keep saying a lot that the connection that is there of general and particular, that should not be missed by us.
Swapna Banerjee: But this neo liberal framework that is there, it has a lot of contradictions. It has a lot of tensions. We look at this tension. Because in one way they say that make the market completely free. The markets that are there, make it free. In another way they say that individuals will have to look after everything. Individuals will of course have to take care of their actions. But the individuals wil have to take care of something else too. What is that? Individuals will have to check their health. Individuals will have to look at the development that is happening. Individuals will have to pay attention to their employment. We give individuals a lot of responsibility. Why? What do we give the individuals in return? Individuals don't have freedom. It is a question. Because it is a neo liberal framework there are quite some fashionable things in it. And when we work with these things, we call it research, they are very related with neo liberalism. Because, when people live with neo liberalism, then more confusion arises in the minds of people.
Swapna Banerjee: So this is the question that when there is no possibility of the people doing anything good, then what is the point of getting that kind of freedom? If we give people the freedom that is there in the market, if we say, that I set you free, then will he become free and go? Whom will he go to? Because there are no jobs in front of him. There is no possibility of making a house for him. They used to stay in Dharavi since a long time. Now he has to hear that now you may go. That means that it will become a part of the modern city. And you will be a part of that city. How he will become is something that is not known. The work that he used to do, for that, it was very necessary for him to stay on the ground floor. Now you tell him to go on te fourth floor. You take 220 sq.ft and sit there. See what a modern building we make. You stay there. But what connection of his work is there with that? What connection of employment is there for him? This point is not coming forth at all. And let us remember... we all, let us remember that this is neo liberalism and Metro is a part of that. Metro has not fallen from heaven suddenly.
Swapna Banerjee: All of you know that Metro had first happened in Kolkatta. And for 15 long years... other cities are learning from that.. 15 long years, a whole generation of small traders were wiped out. We were students that time, we used to do Naxalite movements, we raised our voice.. in whose time? That was the time of the white terror in Bengal and that was the time of Siddhartha Shankar Roy. It was not possible to do anything. And this connection that is there, historical connection, this I think is very, very important.
Swapna Banerjee: The neo liberal state that is there, it has two characteristics which I will tell you. I want to say one more thing. Then we will understand that why do they keep municipality aside, why do they keep urban local bodies aside. This which is a part of the neo liberal state, it is very suspicious about democratic process. It feels that democratic process is against individual rights. Hence the neo liberal theorists take democratic process and say that for this people will have to learn a lot of things. Those who do movements learn by doing movements. If we are working on a theory, if it is not included in that movement, then they won't agree to it. That is always a fact. So my question is, now see, they say democratic process will be successful when it will go in the hands of the elites who have money, who are very well educated, who are well employed- they only know what the democratic process is. So democratic process can be successful only when changed by the elites.
Swapna Banerjee: And for that you see now that urban planning... urban planning includes transport planning, housing planning- in all these plannings, gradually, for years together, the elite groups start taking a very big part. We all are sitting in Mumbai. In Mumbai, there is a good, amusing group which is called, 'Bombay First' which has been started by bringing together the Managing directors of many multinational corporations. There are many of our friends in that. Sometimes I have been surprised as to what they are doing here. But if we go to see in that 'Bombay First' it has all the solutions about the planning of the city. And it has a very big solution about transport planning, it has a very big solution about slums, it means to make every city free of slums. 60% of slum population should be made 10%. So if they want to make it 10%, then the best way is kill the slum population. Automatically, slums will disappear. And that is what we always say...
Swapna Banerjee: In the city, what is this neo liberalism at city level? What are the characteristics in case we will enter into it today or tomorrow? Neo liberal urban planning has started in the city. What is that neo liberal urban planning? It is the urban planning of the whole world. It is a vision of urban planning. Whose vision is this? This is the vision of global capital. Global capital has a vision about the planning of the city. They have started giving that vision in every place now. And now, after this Lok Sabha election of ours, all of you know that Congress has become stronger. For long time Congress was not this strong. So this programme that was there for this, which all of you know-Jawaharlal Nehru-National Urban Rural Mission- under which this literary project is a very important part. That has been going on very, very rigorously.
Swapna Banerjee: But I want to tell you one thing. All the time, every State Government has told us that this is the programme of the Central Government. And what are we of that?-a victim. We will just have to do this. If in a particular state the so-called leftist groups used to rule, as there is my state, West Bengal, in which CPI-M was a very big part, if we go to see there, JJNURM is practiced more rigorously than Mumbai. If you go there then there is no question of removing the jobs of he hawkers. Kolkatta is the most important city where the Kolkatta Municipal Corporation can take hawkers against criminal proceedings. What problem happens is... it does not come in the National Press... hence we don't know that these organized left groups that are there, in different parts, how do they get involved? Question therefore is, that this neo liberalism that is there, it's cover that is there, inside that cover, State governments of many colours have taken shelter. In a way, before..Ramchandriah Iyer... the way Chandrababu Naidu is, like Chandrbabu Naidu...together they...And we all know they wanted to make the the third front with these guys only. Which has no meaning, no rhymes or reasons.
Swapna Banerjee: Withdrawal of state from urban development- the urban social policy of the state that was there, the state has moved away from that urban social policy. The government has moved away from that. A lot of support comes in the private sector investments. It comes the most in two sectors-one is the construction sector and one is the infrastructure sector. In both these sectors private capital is brought in large amounts by the government. A lot of them give back in return like West Bengal gave to Tata (?). And also, lot of support is being wanting to be given to PPP that is Public Private Partnership. I'm sure my friends will be making them aware that what is this public private partnership. It is the hope of private capital, right? Because the public sector doesn't really have much say in this...major public private partnerships.
Swapna Banerjee: There is increase in change of urban space. Simpreet mentioned it a little, which is very, very important. This location of the city that is there, the space that is there, the space is being modified greatly. This which we call mall culture- this mall culture is not something isolated. Go in any city. Now leaving apart the big cities, go in a small city. Now they have started attacking the medium planned cities also. So if you go in Nashik it is on in Nashik also. So the reason for this is that with it private capital is coming in the commercial sector, private capital is coming in the real estate sector. They are joined. And if taking this... we have this in research... that people should be agitated. Many years back, if you look at Paris, you will see that there were very big boulevards, there were big roads. And there were trees on either sides of the roads. Okay? And the common people, they were always in awe. They were always scared about what was behind that. What is going on in the palace behind there.
Swapna Banerjee: Now you will see these architectures that are there, big-big architectures, reflective glasses are a big part of these architectures. Glasses that are like mirrors. If you go then you see your own reflection in it. Behind this is a very major political economic strategy of architects. It is to make people far off from what you are doing inside. First the common public that is there, it's mind is already scared that what will happen with us. Now if you see Dadar- it was one of the most important mill workers area of the country. If we go there now, then don't see malls. See the architecture, see it's gigantic structure. All of this is related with neo liberal architecture.
Swapna Banerjee: I... now I think I should come to the conclusion now. Before that I will tell one thing. 1991- New economic policy in India. What were the four pillars of New Economic Policy? Privatization, Liberalization, Flexibalization- bring down the workers from the market, uproot the markets, so that the working class and the right that it has to sell it's labour, there will be a problem in that right. So what happens in that? The big organized sectors that are there, if you see, they have shut down now. And now we have started saying that the unorganized labour that is there, it too needs to become organized. And with this was Derevolution that is reforms. Reforms are to be brought about in everything- in finance, in governance, in all places. This NEP that was there, New Economic Policy, with it very closely related were New Urban Policy of India. What all was there in this New Urban Policy?
Swapna Banerjee: The landuse that is there, one who uses space in the city, there is a plan behind that. It is called zoning- that, here, a house will be made, here industry will be made, here retail sector will come. Okay? Now demolish it completely. Relax it. Make it flexible. Don't keep something very rigid in it that it won't be questioned. The environmental rule that is there, make it very easy. Probably you all know that so many State Governments have given applications to the Central Government that the environmental rule should be stopped in this place. In that coastal area environmental rule should not be there. Our... Smt Medha and other people they all actually went against this... that had started to become a tourist zone. Now probably it has shut. But in this way many coastal zones have been affected. And mainly if you see in the coastal zone of the city.
Swapna Banerjee: I have told you about this before already- the total withdrawal of the state from urban development projects. Many big projects come. Now there are no small projects- small river planning projects, small water managements projects- none of these. What is meant by a big project? Huge investment, private investment, investment by capital. If we have made an environment for big projects, I am very interested that what will happen to that environment. That environment is a political-economic environment. It facilitates the entry of this private capital. Because I can put this question before you that you are not very modern. You are raising a question about this but you are not all that modern. This joining of planning with modernity, and a country like us which falls in the Global South, which constantly has in it's mind that the white skinned know more. This is the problem of our country. Hence they join modernity with that and therefore, they join a lot of logic with it. And JNNURM is the baby, the child of New Economic policy and New Urban Policy.. it is Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Rural Mission.
Swapna Banerjee: Because whatever parts that are there in this, they are all a part of JNNURM. And this Urban Renewal Mission actually what we say is the official outfit, meaning it is the official face of capitalist accumulation in a new form. The capitalist accumulation which is there in the new form, the face that it has in the city, that is NNURM. My last part will be, to tell you that there are some logics. These people who give logics, this logic is that India should become a part of the whole world. What is that part? Our city that is there...as sometime back some of my friends were telling, it should become like Shanghai. What happened in Shanghai? The labour rules that are there in Shanghai are dangerous. There is nothing for labour in Shanghai. There is no place only. So all this that they say... they say putting all this in a modern framework that Shanghai is something. If we work in Shanghai then we will see that there is nothing. There is nothing in New York. In New York in 1995 on 31st of December, the police fired. You can understand how cold it must have been on 31st of December. They fired in a huge area. Because these people didn't have anywhere to go. These are some of the very important things which we have to remember.