Skip to main content

Dholera 'rooted' in post-2002 Gujarat riots legacy of breaking down communities, neighbourhoods, trust

Dholera "smart" city
Counterview Desk
In one of the sharpest critiques of the Government of India’s (GoI’s) proposal to come up with 100 smart cities, a senior UK scholar on urban development has said that Gujarat's Dholera, which GoI proposes to develop as a model concept for other smart cities to follow, is nothing but a “new urban utopia” of post-colonial India.
Ayona Dutta, associate professor at the University of Leeds, involved in studying urbanization in India, has said, Dholera, proposed on 903 sq km land in Ahmedabad district, to be twice the size of Mumbai, reflects nothing but “large-scale expulsion of those that cannot fit into its smart city-based ‘high-tech strand of developmental utopianism’.”
Dutta, in her research paper, “New urban utopias of postcolonial India: ‘Entrepreneurial urbanization’ in Dholera smart city, Gujarat”, said, as against earlier “planned cities” like Chandigarh, Bhubaneshwar and Gandhinagar, Dholera symbolizes “a new trend in city building in India” which, instead of addressing existing social exclusions, “actually reinforces long-standing social inequalities.”
According to Dutta, Dholera is composed of “large-scale privatized residential neighbourhoods, commercial and business districts, a ‘private’ city at a gargantuan scale, producing a ‘new urban colonialism’.” In fact, it has been “planned in the image of a global Gujarat that rejects its local identity rooted in Gandhian principles.”
Thus, Dutta underlines, while making a break from cities like Gandhinagar, Gujarat capital, there is a need to understand how its concept was developed “in a larger context of a Gujarat reeling after the 2002 communal riots and the breaking down of communities, neighbourhoods and trust.”
Pointing out that none of the narratives on Dholera refer to “local history or the diversity of its social, cultural, religious or material landscapes” which exists in the region, Dhutta says, “Dholera fails to make connections with the postmodern realities of a plural India struggling to maintain communal relations.”
In fact, said Dutta, “Neither the plans nor videos of Dholera, nor the speeches of Narendra Modi, nor the lectures of Amitabh Kant, refer to actually existing Dholera, which remains as an absent presence, giving the impression of an empty backdrop, a tabula rasa – the perfect landscape in waiting for the smart city.”
Pointing towards the “roadblocks” Dholera faces amidst agitation against the special investment region (SIR) proposed on its 903 sq km land for building smart city led by Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG), Dutta says, quotes “several official reports” on flood assessment and biodiversity “that are potentially more concerning for the state.”
One of the reports, for instance, underlines “the high risk of flooding in Dholera, which means that it would cost over INR700 crore to do the necessarily engineering works for flood mitigation.” Then, Dholera is proposed on “the blackbuck habitat and would therefore lead to irreversible loss of biodiversity.”
Dutta concludes, “Dholera is the new urban utopia, whose fault lines are drawn in its very conceptualization, whose bottlenecks are written into the speed of its delivery and whose materialization as smart city requires the active dispossession of marginalised citizens.”

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

'Allow critical thinking': SAARC-sponsored varsity teachers support protesting students

By Our Representative
Teachers of the high-profile South Asian University (SAU), a New Delhi-based international institute sponsored by eight member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – have supported “peacefully protesting students and other citizens” against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.