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

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Planning the Informal

Locating Street Vending in Master Plans Post 2014

The paper posits that the progressive policies of spatial protection for the street vendors in the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 directly contradict the state planning practices of addressing informality that rests on restrictive control of the informal and centralisation of planning powers, thereby arguing for social justice-centred reforms in urban planning acts and policies. The paper will focus on the case of Delhi’s master planning history and process, especially in the lead-up to the draft master plan for Delhi 2041.

The author would like to thank Saktiman Ghosh and Mecanzy Dabre of NHF for their valuable insights on the paper.

Urban planning in the form of master plans vis-à-vis informalities remains exclusionary since modern planning in India. The state’s presence and control over the planning process have loosened and liberalised planning practices have brought in reforms allowing the accumulation of capital and space, furthering informality in Indian cities. Informality, though viewed as “obstacles” to world-class “smart” cities in contemporary times, is forcing the normative planning process to be inclusive and adaptive to the diverse range of informalities. One such case is of the street vendors and vending in Indian cities.

The paper builds on the existing body of work to interrogate the intersection of urban planning, urbanisation, and informality—focusing on street vending in Indian cities. Urban planning as a practice and its origins in a colonial city is well-documented (Das 1981; Gupta 2005). Urban planning post independence was implemented in a “scientific,” “expert-driven” approach fit for orderly development but resulted in creating large “Shadow Cities” (Johnson-Roehr 2015; Shaw 1996). Master planning thus remained technocratic and detached from complex realities of a predominantly poor population for much of the decades after the 1960s (Mahadevia et al 2009; Batra 2009).1 While increasingly disgruntled by formal planning practices in the 1990s, there was a new discourse on how normative planning can be an instrument for urban development (Ahluwalia 2015; Pethe et al 2014). On the contrary, another body of work questions the very instrument of planning (Roy 2009; Bhan 2009).

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Updated On : 27th Feb, 2023
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