TENEMENT TOWNS

2019-2020, Extended metropolitan region of Delhi

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The manufacturing led urbanization around Indian metropolitan cities, Delhi in particular has been highly exclusionary. While there has been ample development of speculative housing for the middle class home-buyer and investors, housing for workers has been systematically ignored and excluded. The agrarian villages whose land is used for developing speculative housing and manufacturing urbanism become sites where the migrants are accommodated through informal rental housing construction by the land owners. 

Leftover agricultural land is plotted into tenement blocks that promise really high rents for their builders. In the extended metropolitan region of Delhi there has been a massive proliferation of such settlements, which I term as tenement towns. Although prevalent they are often hidden from public perception as they hardly touch the main thoroughfares and due to the systematic attempt to invisualize them through a clever manipulation and duality of land records and play of census numbers.

In the last two years, I have been studying the phenomenon of these towns in depth in my attempt to understand the structural reasons behind their emergence and also the political economy and compromises through which they prevail and sustain.

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