Journal Article
Migrant Informalities of Indian Steel Towns: Planning Lessons from Rourkela, Bhilai and Durgapur

This article examines the territorialization of migrant informality as a result of specific planning policies in Indian steel cities of Bhilai, Durgapur and Rourkela. Conceived of as ‘temples of modern India’ and built with Soviet, German and British collaboration during the height of the Cold War, these sites internalized a post-colonial, migrant rural workforce, and hoped to forge a singular national identity. Planned around steel mills that transformed the raw iron ore into a ‘metal of the age’, the towns also intended to reform the rural agrarian labour into skilled, modern, urbane technicians, through the design of spaces that they would inhabit. However, these cities—designed with conflicting urban ideologies—excluded access to shelter and livelihood to a vast majority of other migrating residents. Due to their strong planning focus on the ‘ideal’ industrial employee, planners of these cities relegated the non-industrial, informal workforce to the crevices within and around the planned area. As these very settlements are now being considered for urban upgrading with mass housing schemes, surveys of over three-hundred residents and fieldwork undertaken in three steel cities highlight how specific design decisions played a role in creating the housing mismatch that we see today in the steel cities of India.

Title
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMazereeuw M, Ojha M, Barve A
JournalEnvironment and Urbanization ASIA
Volume8
Issue1
Pagination74-93
Date Published03/2017
Abstract

This article examines the territorialization of migrant informality as a result of specific planning policies in Indian steel cities of Bhilai, Durgapur and Rourkela. Conceived of as ‘temples of modern India’ and built with Soviet, German and British collaboration during the height of the Cold War, these sites internalized a post-colonial, migrant rural workforce, and hoped to forge a singular national identity. Planned around steel mills that transformed the raw iron ore into a ‘metal of the age’, the towns also intended to reform the rural agrarian labour into skilled, modern, urbane technicians, through the design of spaces that they would inhabit. However, these cities—designed with conflicting urban ideologies—excluded access to shelter and livelihood to a vast majority of other migrating residents. Due to their strong planning focus on the ‘ideal’ industrial employee, planners of these cities relegated the non-industrial, informal workforce to the crevices within and around the planned area. As these very settlements are now being considered for urban upgrading with mass housing schemes, surveys of over three-hundred residents and fieldwork undertaken in three steel cities highlight how specific design decisions played a role in creating the housing mismatch that we see today in the steel cities of India.

URLhttp://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0975425316686585