Measuring Functionality of the Low-cost Housing for the Urban Poor: Unheard Voices of Asansol City, West Bengal
In inclusive development paradigm, every person has the right to access basic amenities, and housing is one of them. Urban governance has to provide shelter to its citizens, and when the poor occupy a sizable portion of this population, the roles of urban governance become more crucial. A significant portion of the city dwellers in-migrate into the city from the surrounding areas. They are mainly unskilled or semi-skilled people, who have migrated into the cities in search of livelihood and settle down in places which gradually transforms into slums. In India, public housing as a part of poverty alleviation, aims to provide shelter as well as a comfortable environment to the beneficiaries. The key objectives of this research are to find out the role of the local government of Asansol, West Bengal in providing housing to the landless poor and to examine the responses from the housing dwellers. Mixed method approach has been applied here, and people's responses have been recorded with a semi-structured questionnaire based on purposive sampling technique. However, it has been found that the ability to access essential services is not the same for all sections of the society. This signals that when the questions of accessing resources are linked to the poor, either their voices fail to reach the appropriate places or they remain unheard in most spheres. Thus, the gap between the government and the poor are widening regarding the provision of essential services, accountability and regularity of monitoring of the public housing environment. As a result, the functionality of the low-cost housing is yet to achieve the desired goal of inclusivity in Asansol. Urban space is still exclusive for poor and vulnerable.