ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Roads to New Urban Futures

Flexible Territorialisation in Peri-urban Kolkata and Hyderabad

The limited-access road infrastructure that state governments facilitated in peri-urban Kolkata and Hyderabad, post liberalisation, have been examined. These roads reveal the state’s flexible territorialisation strategies in peri-urban areas, and highlight state guarantees in land via infrastructure. These projects have been examined as strategies of delineation that deviated from practices of expanding urban limits via extension of jurisdictional boundaries; as state guarantees into peri-urban real estate markets, associated with new governance modalities, predicated on land; and as inter-scalar strategies, which legitimised state governments intervening at the city-level, within a context of competitive dynamics of economic and political regionalism.

The author is grateful to the anonymous reviewer whose comments helped improve the paper significantly.

Peri-urban areas of metropolitan cities have attracted significant land and real estate interests in the decades following liberalisation. This paper examines high-speed, limited-access road projects promoted by state governments in the geographic peripheries of metropolitan cities, to interrogate not only their role in shaping peri-urban real estate markets, but also to unpack them as territorial strategies of state governments trying to woo external investors in the post-liberalisation milieu.

This paper focuses on the peri-urban road projects promoted in Kolkata and Hyderabad. Both cities, as state capitals, received a significant proportion of “place-making” attention from their respective state governments after liberalisation. These efforts were aimed at creating destinations to attract and anchor domestic and foreign corporates, developers and investors in exclusive townships, special economic zones (SEZs), campuses for information technology (IT), biotechnology, pharmaceutical research and development, finance, specialty healthcare, higher education, etc (Denis 2011; Kennedy and Sood 2016), in peri-urban areas where land was cheaper and easier to alienate (Shaw 2005; DuPont and Sridharan 2007). Within a context of state rescaling, which culminated in state governments materialising post liberalisation economic growth agendas at the city-scale (Kennedy 2014), these “place- making” efforts were more than localised strategies (Shaw and Satish 2007). They ran concurrent to state-level strategies such as accelerated timelines to implement investor- and developer-friendly policies and projects, as well as interstate competitive tactics (Kennedy 2007), often led by chief ministers themselves, and enacted across domestic and international investor meets, marketing roadshows and specially organised homecoming events for the diaspora (Kohli 1989; Naidu and Ninan 2000; Basu 2007; Bose 2007). In both cities, the road projects provided critical support to the state governments’ efforts to transform urban peripheries into externally legible destinations and to changing market perceptions about what constituted the cities’ “urban” regions.

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Updated On : 15th Dec, 2018
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