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

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Railway Landscape and Urban Marginalisation

Rethinking Transit-oriented Development

Indian cities, in the last few years, have shown substantial inclination towards rail-based transit-oriented development as a tool to make them more competitive in terms of liveability, at a global scale. Against this backdrop, a brief discussion on the need to rethink TOD policies in the country is undertaken. The article argues for an inclusive urban policy and governance practice. It argues that the TOD, which is essentially a neo-liberal Western notion of urban regeneration, needs to be substantially metamorphosed.

The authors wish to express their gratitude to late Ravi S Singh for his constructive ideas. They thank the Department of Geography, Banaras Hindu University and the University Grants Commission for material support.

For Indian cities in general and mega-urban clusters like Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, and Chennai in particular, the habitation of the poor migrants, mostly coming from rural areas, requires a spatial conceptualisation that discards the conventional urban markings of wards or neighbourhoods. Hence, an alternative conceptualisation has to pay close attention to the railway stations and tracks, sewage network, flyovers, dumping grounds, and other ubiquitous locations, patches of territory that slums, squatters and homeless can claim as their own (Roy 2003; Banerjee Guha 2010; GoNCTD 2015; Ghosh 2019).

Railway stations in India, since long, are apparently functioning as reference cityscapes for urban marginalisation. It is not very difficult, in India, to observe homeless people, seeking shelter under the roofs and shades of station territories, thus making these sites the absolute testimonies of urban poverty. Train stations in their various depictions play an important emblematic role as “non-places” that are anomalous and sporadic entities within the urban landscape, acquiring a deep meaning for “non-people,” those having no visibility and social role (Carminucci 2011). Accordingly, railway stations have suited well as identity makers for a number of rural to urban migrants who have no places to live in the city, and hence have no social role to play, and, therefore, are invisible to the governing authorities.

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Updated On : 20th Feb, 2023
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