Puducherry to empower its citizens through an innovative & integrated financing mechanism

Thu, 2019-03-28 16:50 -- SCC India Staff


To improve a shared community infrastructure as well as augmenting social and technological capacity to achieve the goal of a ‘slumfree’ Puducherry, the Puducherry Smart City Corporation Ltd (PSCCL) has launched “Our Neighbourhood is Your Neighbourhood Too – A Participatory Planning Approach for Improvement of Low-income Settlements” project in Puducherry. The project focuses on empowerment of stakeholders through an innovative and integrated financing mechanism.

The project addresses the following challenges:
- Absence of direct and effective communication between communities and government
- Unequal representation in neighbourhood-level development
- Inadequate access to professional expertise, especially housing, infrastructure, and finance
- Exclusion from economic opportunities
- Limited ability of slum improvement lead agencies

It does so by solutions oriented towards citizen participation, ICT-enabled provision of government services, promotion of economic activity and employment, upgradation of public spaces in low-income settlements, and a dedicated knowledge and design centre.

Amplifying Community Voices: To empower community stakeholders to voice their needs, and utilization of funds where they are needed the most.
Catalyzing Community Resources: To innovate an integrated financing mechanism to streamline deployment of multiple funding streams strategically towards social housing, community initiatives, and projects.
Leveraging Community Environments: To improve shared community infrastructure and public open spaces as needed assets.
Capacity Building – Bottom-up + Top-down: To augment the existing technological and social capacity, and inter-departmental coordination of lead delivery agencies to achieve the goal of a slum-free Puducherry.

The project components include:
- Makkal Mandram (People’s forum)
- Puducherry SMART Enterprise Resource Platform (ERP)
- Pondy Urban Lab
- Housing Fix Project (HFP)
- Housing Build Project (HBP)
- Community Fix Set of Projects
- Physical infrastructure projects

All these are consistent with the project objectives identified under the CITIIS program.

Sustainability aspects
The project focuses on establishing equal representation of women, at the minimum 50 per cent. The project’s primary target is low-income groups residing in slums. At a later phase of the project, once the site experiments and the first upscaling are established, many of the built-in tools developed in the projects could be expanded to address the whole population of Puducherry. Community Fix and Housing Fix projects will be carried out using the ‘urban acupuncture’ methodology in order to bridge gaps of minor infrastructure, resolving problems, and upgrading living conditions at the level of individual home as well as in common public spaces. This will improve the overall living conditions, including garbage collection and water management. It would contribute to better quality of environment and climate resilience. This specific issue is a priority as many of the low-income settlements are located in particularly vulnerable sites - the seashore and next to natural sites such as mangroves or protected areas.

The project proposes a holistic convergence of the material and social aspects which are often addressed separately. The project proposes partnership between public bodies and related agencies such as PSCDL, Slum Clearance Board, other government departments; private sector (YES Bank), researchers and experts skilled in participative planning and community engagement in urban areas, from both public (IFP) and private institutions (UDC). The project also emphasizes on technological solutions to be materialized by the digital platform ERP, their inter-linkage with GIS, geospatial systems and mapping. It also includes techno-legal solutions, required during the realization of the housing project, involving construction of 448 new housing units for beneficiaries from low-income communities. The socio-cultural innovation will be reflected in the ways in-situ regeneration is addressed while integrating a vision to enhance different forms of heritage.