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INHAF Heritage Book

The book “Conservation and the Indian City: Bridging the Gap” conceptualised, curated, and edited by Poonam V. Mascarenhas and Vinayak Bharne assesses the contemporary condition of heritage and conservation in India from three perspectives – that of the monument and building; that of the city and its ecological context; and that of the broader policy frameworks that enable conservation regardless of scale. To what degree does twentieth-century Modern architectural heritage in India actually impact daily urban life? Why are there unforeseen consequences of World Heritage Site designations on Indian towns and cities? Is there real potential for participatory conservation planning in the world’s largest democracy? Gathering an expansive group of multifaceted individuals – architects, conservationists, planners, urban designers, engineers, activists, educators, and practitioners – this book clarifies the successes and shortcomings of conservation practice in India today, and offers tactics and strategies to bridge extant social, political, and cultural gaps. This volume will be of interest to anyone seeking to understand the complex relationships between the contemporary city, conservation, and ecological-, cultural-, and built-heritage, whether in India or beyond.

ClimACT Compendium

INHAF recently launched ClimACT-Chennai, a climate action initiative with the intent of bringing convergence in views and action that can take a proactive approach to the looming threat of Climate change that the city faces. Over the next 36 months, ClimACT seeks to lay out strategic direction for actions relating to climate change in Chennai with the primary goal of improving the city’s resilience, equity & liveability. The key focus areas for this initiative are understanding Chennai as a city with a Climate Change lens; Understanding it’s state of preparedness for Climate Change impacts; studying the possibilities of carbon footprint reduction; analysis of the city’s master plan; understanding the impact on vulnerable communities and related outreach & collaborations to further build the project. Chennai is ranked as seventh in the list of districts prone to extreme floods and cyclones in India. The climate simulations over the Chennai Metropolitan Area predict a rise of temperature 2.4°C to 2.5°C by midcentury (2041-2070) and 3.3 °C to 3.6 °C increase towards the end of the century (2071-2098). The city’s extreme rainfall events have marked 53 localities in the city as Flood prone areas. The rainfall pattern also seems to decrease by 6.4mm/Year eventually which will lead to water scarcity. Being a coastal city, Chennai will be subjected to an estimated Sea-level rise of 07.37 cm by 2030. This will affect Chennai in a variety of ways, including inundation, flood and storm damage associated with severe cyclones and surges, erosion, saltwater intrusion, and wetland loss. 36.7% of the chennai’s coastline is already subjected to erosion. 

Approximately 47% of the wetland has been lost since 1991 mainly due to human interventions resulting in heavy loss of wetland ecosystems and biodiversity. Chennai is ranked the most socio-economically vulnerable to climate change among the metropolitan cities in India. Around 120 Informal settlements are marked vulnerable with extreme flood risk and inundation. It is estimated that 1 ° C rise in temperature leads to nearly 4.7 percent fall in growth rate of Chennai’s per capita income. With such a spectrum of challenges faced by Chennai, Climate action is inevitable and also a priority. We think that one way to gain a better understanding of Chennai is through this compendium exercise to get an overview of various actors in Chennai tackling these challenges. We have identified organizations that are doing significant work on preparing the city towards Climate Change impacts exclusively. The availability of information and access to concerned people has been the guiding factor in the selection of these organisations, rather than any specific criteria. The document is a culmination of desk research , one on one personal interviews and conversations with people from the organisations where it was feasible. The underlying idea was to understand the kind of services provided and type of work being implemented towards Climate action in the city. This is the first phase of the document and we envision a scaled up version with the work of more organisations soon.

Smart City Report

Launched in 2015, the Smart City Mission (SCM) was one of many flagship national programmes of India, seen as offering solutions to the country’s massive and complex urban challenge. Its focus was to harness information communication technology (ICT) to improve city efficiency, productivity, security, liveability, sustainability and governance. Cities competed for access to funding through acquiring the status of a smart city. One hundred cities were selected under the mission out of thousands of proposals. In order to implement the mission, each city was required to up an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle), structured as a private limited company, heralding in a new era of city governance and management. This very ambitious programme intended to marry two new approaches of integrating information technology into urban planning on one hand and forming an implementation agency in the form of a private limited company on the other together to tackle problems of urbanisation in a neo-liberal era. But since its inception and throughout its course, it has been plagued with criticism on being flawed in its fundamental conceptualisation, ineffective in its implementation, and hence slow in its progress.

In a system of cooperative federalism, where Central missions are implemented in states by the urban local bodies, it calls for a more nuanced understanding of the structuring and implementation of the programme to identify lacunae and help give policy feedback for future programmes in the urban sector. INHAF, as part of a nation-wide coalition of over 30 individuals and organisations, initiated the process of studying and understanding the smart city programme in all mission cities in Maharashtra in 2017. Setting up the national coalition was time intensive and has absorbed individuals and agencies as partners – professionals, civic groups, academic institutions, professional training institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), researchers, urban experts, and activists – taking up, on a voluntary basis, the assessment of the Government of India’s ambitious program under which over 100 cities are being developed as smart cities, for the State of Maharashtra in particular.