By Team FI
Women activists, politicians and architects have written to Mumbai Municipal Corporation voicing their concern over the proposed city development plan for Mumbai 2014-34. Activists cutting across the party lines argue that the draft of the Plan completely ignores the gender aspect in planning for the future, stating that it “remains gender blind, not taking cognizance of the way half the population can access, benefit and grow in the city.”
The letter called the Corporation’s invitations to women’s groups to submit suggestions at the stage of planning a charade and mockery of the fact since they have ignored the several submissions made by women’s groups that would have helped India’s financial centre to become more women friendly.
Further, the letter stated their objections to some aspects of the plan and reiterated the suggestions the women groups had made at the planning stage.
Here is the full text of the letter
We undersigned women’s organisations and women members from political parties, women architects and urban planner would request you to consider our concerns regarding the proposed Development Plan. We have studied the draft Development Plan for Mumbai 2014-34 which has been uploaded by MCGM for suggestions and objections. We are aware of the debates around the DP which have amply highlighted concerns around differential FSI, lack of focus on affordable housing, dereserving heritage structures and potential loss of open spaces. We would like to raise our concerns on the lack of planning towards making the city women friendly.
The current draft of the Development Plan completely ignores the gender aspect in planning for the future. It has not taken note of the fact which is well accepted worldwide – that women and men use the city and its services/amenities differently. Even among women, experience and empirical studies have shown that women of different classes pursuing different socio-economic ends use the city in markedly different ways. For example, women hawkers, ragpickers, homemakers, students and professionals use the same road or market or garden at different times of the day/night and in different ways. In addition, with the inadequate provision of housing and amenities in the city, the most severely affected are often women. In addition, as an increasing number of women join the workforce, the city is inadequately planned to provide for them. Therefore planning must include the gender perspective for ensuring an equitable plan. Mumbai is perceived as a city of great opportunity, attracting students and workers from across the country. Many of these are young women.
The present version of the DP is a mockery of the fact that the BMC went through the charade of inviting all stakeholders, including women’s groups, at the stage of planning. Women’s groups made several submissions and participated in the process. We had demanded that all access to and use of public amenities and spaces in the existing land use be analysed from the gender perspective and appropriate inclusions made in the PLU. The objectives of the D.P (Pages 247 to 252) contain 19 strategies, but none that clearly strategize from the gender perspective. Goal No.2 (Creating an Inclusive city) should recognize that inclusionary zoning has to address gender needs as well. The PLU remains gender blind, not taking cognizance of the way half the population can access, benefit and grow in the city.
That the DP does not reflect people’s and women’s suggestions is a shame. Clear pro poor and gendered guiding framework, a continued supervision not only by the Municipal Corporation but also by State Authorities could have prevented this condition where there is an overwhelming demand from various quarters for total rehauling of the Development Plan.
The demand from the women’s groups, cutting across party lines and other spectrum, is simple: The DP when revised and finalised, must include the gender-based planning approach and include the gender perspective at all levels of the plans. Gender should not be an add on factor as part of the ancillary allocation but need to get included in primary allocations and should be a cross cutting axis.
Observations and remarks on the draft DP:
Below are some of the objections we would like to place to this DP and reiterations of the suggestions that were made earlier, arranged along six broad themes:
1. LOCAL AREA PLANS
If the current DP is taken into account, it becomes clear that official planners have merely focused on built environment and FSI, thus consigning other vital aspects of everyday life to “Local Area Plans”. There are too many uncertainties regarding how the areas coming under LAP are going to be identified, the agencies that will carry out the planning process and the time frames and implementation mechanisms and what would be the role of women in this decision making process.
All gender focused demands have been put in the ancillary provisions to be discussed later. Even in the situational analysis to be undertaken under Local Area Plans, there is no mention of identifying needs of women in the area. Such a focus directly emerges from a non-gendered understanding of the city. We want local area plans to be integral part of the proposed DP and not a process to be deliberated later and gender provisions need to be spelled out clearly.
The DP identifies 150 planning sectors, with ward boundaries as definitive limits. As a result, planning sectors have not been linked with electoral wards and thus the functioning of local area plans does not have a governance framework of accountability or of ensuring all citizens participation in decision making. This will definitely affect the role of those marginalised like women in the process of decision making.
The other major loophole suggested in section of DCR is the landpooling of land as development happens and is envisaged to lead to public amenities of varying kinds based on assessment of deficiencies in the area. With marginalized sections and women having very little say, there is a high probability that the reservations emerging from landpooling will remain exclusive, segregated and out of women’s reach unless specific guidelines for such inclusions are incorporated.
This DP seems to make no progress in going towards the aim of providing affordable housing to citizens. Not having this puts women in a particularly vulnerable position. Cities over the years have seen migration of single women and women headed households and city plans do not take any efforts to make affordable housing possible for these groups of women. The NSSO survey has brought out that 40% of houses in the city are vacant. This DP continues to propose increasing FSI as a means to create affordable housing even though past experience points to the failure of this logic.
The DP seems to be silent on the issue of rental housing. From the point of view of women, especially for single and women headed households, this is essential for any kind of access to housing within the city.
We welcome the move of marking slums as residential areas. However, we urge that these be marked as reservations for affordable housing for the residents who live on that settlement. It is critical for retaining live-work relationship which affects women in particular. Also given that the DP document itself puts slum population at nearly 45%, a Development Plan cannot bypass the planning for this vast number in the name of second tier planning.
The DCR 2034 speaks of ‘Inclusionary Housing’ as promoted by the MoHUPA. It has stated that 10% of 2000 sq m plots will be handed over to the MCGM for PAPs, livelihood restoration and for EWS/LIG housing. In the 10% land reserved for inclusionary housing and other amenities, it must be specified how these facilities created will benefit women.
3. HEALTH, EDUCATION, TRANSPORT, and OTHER AMENITIES
It has been well established in the absence of required resources, women are girls are compelled to seek public services for health and education. Robust public health, public education and public transport system are essential for inclusion of women in the city planning.
For open spaces the report refers to international norms and standards, but when it comes to amenities our bench marks are only against the 1991 DP. The report surprisingly states that amenity provision of health and education are more or less sufficient and only needs some improvement. This is not acceptable at all.
Mumbai is witnessing and reporting higher cases of assaults on women and girls. The DCRs related to roads and infrastructure should ensure safety of women.
Our demands to the DP authorities have always been to map the public and private facilities separately, as the claim of nearly all residential areas in Mumbai having access to public healthcare is incorrect. The DP must demarcate private and public health facilities separately and then plan to increase the public hospitals especially in suburbs.There is a disparity in the spatial distribution of hospitals providing secondary and tertiary care.
One part of the city having about 28% of the population has 62% of the public beds & 49% of the private beds,whereas, the majority of the population in the Eastern and Western suburbs have inadequate beds.
DP must define localized plans and create network of maternity homes, post-partum centers,dispensaries, adolescent health centres, one stop crisis centre and primary health posts.
Sexual and reproductive health care facilities (in addition to maternity care) must be available at primary health care. The norms as laid down under NUHM for such swasthyachowkies must be clearly stated in the DP.
Similarly in the case of pre-primary, primary schools and secondary schools, private schools are to be separated from public, and a re-assessment of public-government run amenity requirements should be reserved in DP.
According to NGOs working on education, more girls than boys are dropping out of schooling, a large number on account of the lack of public education services in the wards beyond the 7th std and the lack of neighborhood schools. The children who live in slums have to contend with space constraints and a lack of suitable atmosphere to study. If the city has to be competitive, education is key and investment by way of reserving land for schools, colleges and reading rooms should be a priority of the DP and this should be clearly marked.
The city have very few hostels for girls studying in the city and working women hostels. Both these facilities are highly insufficient with long waiting lists and new ones have to be planned.
It has been noted in the Preparatory Studies that walking and public transport trips account for nearly 88% of total trips. 51% of all trips are by walking and yet pedestrians are the most vulnerable group of commuters as 58% of traffic-related fatalities are pedestrians. There is no recognition that women commuters use the transport differently despite multiple presentation and enough data available internationally.
The World Bank study conducted in 2011 , pointed out that Women tend to make more trips by public transport (especially by buses) and during off-peak hours. it was observed that women made 45% more trips by bus than train, across income categories. Buses also formed a greater portion of women’s total trips than men’s total trips.
The report proposes a generous car space policy citing rising incomes which will push the car ownership ratio. But fails to suggest points to augment the public transport.
Bus, train terminuses should provide facilities such as waiting rooms and shelters for women who commute long distances on daily basis.
Not only the land use but structural allocation also need to recognize women’s needs.
● Every community centre should have a women’s community centre within its institution.
● Working women’s hostels
● Women’s short stay homes to be made available in case of domestic violence
● Creche and day care centres for children have to be not specific to women but for all
● Land allocation / reservation for decentralized amenity clusters within 5-15 minutes walking distance. These should include public toilets, drinking water, reading rooms, day-care centres, pre-primary and primary health care facilities
● Night shelters should be separated as ‘general’ and ‘for women’
4. OPEN SPACES
Serious concerns are – the existing per capita open space provision is 1, including clubs and other private open spaces increases it to 1.15, with other natural resources (beaches, national park etc) it increases to 1.24. This, by any standards, is too low. Lack of open spaces affects women and children in ways that go beyond the immediate and obvious needs.
The development plan of Mumbai needs to go beyond the playgrounds and parks and more clear plan to democratize open spaces like seafronts, spaces around lakes, mangroves, river, creeks, wetlands, ponds which are accessible to all citizens.
The report itself admits the threat identified by the MMREI Study – that says only 47% of open spaces are really accessible. Spaces that will be generated out of pooling will be privatized, exclusive spaces. So whatever sq per person, there is no guarantee that it will be accessible. The DP should recommend that the MCGM should take responsibility of open spaces and not lease it to private bodies.
While the DP aims to promote a sustainable city and constant references are made to preserving the natural areas with an aim to conserve existing ‘ecologically sensitive areas’ that would help retain the city’s ecology and biodiversity – for want of commercial amenity space, Aarey Colony is marked as an ‘opportunity for development’. This is akin to CBDs like Ballard Estate, BKC and Nariman Point. Not only does Aarey colony add to the ecological balance in the city and is a vital lung to the city, it is also home to Adivasi-padas and forms an integral connector to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Water bodies need to be marked in the DP and plans made for preserving them so that water is available as a resource. Women spend a lot of time in getting water for the household and so creation of more reservoirs to ensure water supply in the suburbs is also needed.
Mumbai’s vision of being competitive is less likely to be achieved if female workforce participation remains as low as 16%. These low participation rates imply that Mumbai is unlikely to reap the demographic dividend associated with its currently favorable demographic constellation of a rising share of the working age population relative to young and old dependents. There is a need to ensure a higher rate of participation of women with provision of various services associated with easier access to workforce like tending to the young –creches and day care centres, working women’s hostels, skill training institutes focus with female workforce.
Studies have pointed out that skills shortage among women is is responsible for their low participation. Large-scale skill upgradation programmes for women that can boost prospects of formal sector employment require training centres. Spaces for these need to be marked. The MCGM proposal of Aadhar Kendras, needs to be implemented in every ward for which land reservation should be made. These centres can also work as resource centres for trainings of women.
There should be 10% reservation in all hawking zones for women hawkers. Support infrastructure such as public toilets, resting rooms, changing rooms for women, crèches, storage areas, drinking water facilities, waste disposal, etc. for street vending must be provided on all market streets and close to all vending zones. These must be shown in the PLU.
Considering that a large workforce of wastepickers is women, creation of designated space for localized segregation of waste should have space allocated for them and also every waste management site should have demarcated space for recycling.