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All urban reform missions since the turn of the century have recognised the importance of participatory,community-based actions in bringing about urban regeneration.This research seeks to study how co-production works in Indian urban contexts, examine the role of actors that create collaborations across the boundaries of institutions.

Boundary Spanning and Intermediation for Urban Regeneration: Comparative Case Studies from Three Indian Cities

Research Institutes/ Partners: The Centre for Policy Research (CPR), Delhi; Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), Chennai; Centre for Urban Policy and Governance (CUPG) at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai 

Funded by: ICSSR

Duration: Feb 1 2017 - Jan 31 2018

All urban reform missions, programs and policy statements drawn up at the national level since the turn of the century have officially recognised and emphasised the importance of participatory, consultative and/or community-based actions in bringing about successful urban regeneration. The most inclusive and sustainable outcomes have been found to stem from collaborative efforts and effective working partnerships, or ‘co-production’ among urban citizens, state agencies, and civil society actors such as NGOs or other private institutions. While the role of community-led actions and initiatives in creating and sustaining urban regeneration is being increasingly recognized, a range of challenges hinder achievement of broad-based, effective and inclusive citizen involvement in governing Indian cities. This research seeks to systematically and empirically study how co-production works in Indian urban contexts, using a comparative approach. In particular, it seeks to examine the role of actors that create collaborations across the boundaries of institutions – these actors are referred to as “boundary spanners”. This study will examine the roles, skills, capacities, conditions, and contexts under which boundary-spanning for effective and sustainable coproduction of urban regeneration can occur. Furthermore, it examines sets of actors that operate across boundaries of various institutions and the processes and trajectories of change they engender. Transformations in cities involve complex changes. The interrelationships between institutions shift, new institutions are made and remade, the boundaries and actors who are shaped by these changes in turn try to re-shape these institutions. In order to study these process, the research focuses primarily on two modes of state-citizen engagement: 1) Citizen challenges to state representations and knowledge frameworks and 2) Collaboration/co-production that throw light on how citizen engagement can create bottom-up, transformative solutions to urban challenges. 

This study seeks to explore in detail these processes through research in three Indian cities -- Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. Each of the following case studies, located in the three cities, use a qualitative methodology. One resettlement site in each city is chosen for a comparative study, given that resettlement and relocation of slums is a key dynamic in the development of Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. Each of these R & R sites -- Kannagi Nagar (Chennai), Vashi Naka (Mumbai), and Bhalswa (Delhi) -- are at least 10 years old where the challenges both residents and state agencies face, and possible co-production efforts, are likely to be different to those encountered in the immediate aftermath of resettlement. Having fixed the nature of the comparative site, the choice of the second site in Mumbai and Delhi and two sites in Chennai involved a selection of different dynamics specific to that city.  


Kannagi Nagar is the largest state-built resettlement colony in Chennai.



1) Kattukuppam: Kattukuppam is a fishing hamlet located in the Ennore region of Chennai, which houses several industrial installations such as thermal power plants, petroleum refineries, factories and ports.  Since the 1960s, these industries have contributed to significant destruction of the Ennore creek, hitherto the main source of livelihood for the fishers of Kaatukuppam, who are inland fishermen. The struggle of the village leaders against pollution, ecological destruction and land-grab by industries in the area is thus cross-cut by a range of other aspirations and visions for/of the future of the village.

2) Korattur: Korattur, a 600- acre water body in the north-western part of Chennai, is among the largest water bodies in Chennai city. The story of Korattur tank broadly follows the trajectory of water body transformation in urban areas: urbanization and the associated land use change (loss of farm lands) resulting in neglect of the water body and channels, pollution due to industrial effluents, and encroachments.  

3) Kannagi Nagar (R&R site): Kannagi Nagar is the largest state-built resettlement colony in Chennai, comprising more than 25,000 families evicted from around 90 different sites in the city.  The site has undergone dramatic transformations in the 17 years since its launch in 2000, and is currently projected by the state as a success story in development through partnerships between state agencies, NGOs and the community. Yet, the site remains a ghetto of poverty and crime and has continued to earn notoriety for its high incidence of murders, drug and gang activity, and the criminalisation of youth.  

An auto-constructed home in the lanes of Trombay Koliwada, Mumbai. Photo: Abhishek Anil



1) Trombay Koliwada: Trombay Koliwada is a settlement of aboriginal fishing community of Mumbai called ‘Kolis’. Trombay Koliwada's location -- being in the vicinity of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, port-related installations and upcoming infrastructure projects -- have reduced the fishing areas of the koliwada. Increasingly, the traditional livelihood of fishing has become unviable and capital intensive and there are struggles to diversify capability to engage with other livelihood options, and aspire toward land (re)development of both common as well as individually-owned lands. 

2) Vashi Naka (R&R site): Vashi Naka is the one of the largest rehabilitation sites in Mumbai comprising rehabilitated inhabitants from across the city. Most of these residents are project affected people under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) and Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project (MUIP). They have been rehabilitated some ten years back and have struggled extensively for basic services, housing co-operative society formation, community places with still many promises remaining unfulfilled.


1) Lalita Park and Mandawali: The regularisation of unauthorised colonies (settlements built in violation of zoning guidelines) has been a long-standing agenda in Delhi’s urban governance landscape. Apart from better service provision, regularisation is expected to bring in tenure security and access to cheaper formal housing finance. With this background, our fieldwork seeks to understand urban regeneration, particularly housing and neighbourhood improvements, in the context of an unauthorised and a regularised unauthorised colony. Our fieldwork looks at East Delhi which we identify as a patchwork of unauthorised and regularised unauthorised colonies in the city.

2) Bhalswa (R&R site): Located in North-West Delhi, the  Bhalswa resettlement colony was established during the most recent wave of evictions in Delhi that took place in the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.  No official estimates are available of the population residing in Bhalswa but estimations are in the range of 20,000. There has been an active history of struggle through Right to Information (RTI) campaigns in the colony, principally around issues of ration entitlements. Spearheaded by a local NGO active in the area, women have been at the forefront of these campaigns, raising very pertinent questions from a boundary spanning lens.