Sample Case: India


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This case discusses development and displacement in the context of Kolkata, India. Compared to other Indian cities, Kolkata’s economy has remained stagnant partly because of insufficient transportation infrastructure. Students will take on the role of a project planner advising the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited, who is building a new subway line in the city connecting the airport, center city, and suburban areas. The East-West Metro Line would be the second subway line in the city and is meant to alleviate automobile traffic and provide much-needed infrastructure to support the urban economy. Despite the positive impact the metro line could make, land needed to construct the subway is to be taken from an informal settlement. This case requires students to explore the social, environmental, and economic concerns that accompany making difficult decisions in development planning.

Planning Topics

transportation planning, social justice, informal settlements, economic development, poverty reduction, public transportation

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the frequent tensions between urban development and informality.
  2. Consider the rights of long-term “illegal residents” to their homes and community.
  3. Consider the common trade-offs in large-scale infrastructure projects between individual and collective good.
  4. Describe some of the main actors involved in infrastructure development projects, both internal and external.
  5. Understand the influence that donor agencies and organizations have in development projects.

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Suggested Readings

  1. Gandy, M. (2006). Planning, Anti-Planning and the Infrastructure Crisis Facing Metropolitan Lagos. Urban Studies 43(2): 371-396. Read the abstract.
  2. Roy, A. (2009). Why India Cannot Plan Its Cities: Informality, Insurgence and the Idiom of Urbanization. Planning Theory 8(1): 76-87. Read the abstract.
  3. Weinstein, L. (2013). ‘One Man Handled’: Fragmented Power and Political Entrepreneurship in Globalizing Mumbai. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38(1): 14-35. Read the abstract.