Politics of the Street: Design, Density, Diversity and Claim making

Sept 17_Streets workshopWhat: Closed workshop

When: 17th September 2017

Where: Institute of Development Studies Kolkata

The Centre for Urban Policy and Governance (CUPG), TISS Mumbai in collaboration with Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, University of Calcutta Centre of Urban Economic Studies, Architecture Department IIEST Shibpur and National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, has organised a one day workshop on the politics of the street and claim making. The workshop is a part of a broader study conducted at the Centre. A multifaceted research project “Right to the City”, aims to study the various aspects of claiming and upholding the right to the city, particularly for marginalised and excluded communities and groups that inhabit the urban space.

Within the broader rubric of the Right to the City, the project is attempting to re-conceptualise the right to the city by examining the contested and often contradictory “rights to the street” as a democratic and socio-political right which is increasingly under threat from the dominant capitalist urban planning and development paradigms that seek to reduce the street to a particular function – as merely a space for vehicles carrying goods and people, replacing accessibility with mobility.  One of the key stakeholders in this highly contested space and a co-producer of the space of the street as a space of production, accumulation and of livelihood is the hawker. Interestingly, the National Urban Transport Policy (2006) makes no mention of street vendors. Yet, the National Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihoods and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014, a product of a long struggle by hawkers and activists, clearly recognizes hawkers to be an important component of street and street life (Bandopadhyay 2007). This study is located in the cusp of these contradictions and attempts to understand how hawkers and their struggles contribute to the production of urban space, especially the street and the challenges faced by them in the current neoliberal urban regime (Harvey 2006).

It is hoped that this study will be able to open up a space for debate and discussion across multiple stakeholders in order to re-envision streets and footpath as a common urban resource to be shared across different stakeholders.  

Workshop Schedule

Introduction: 10:00 am- 10:30am

Dr. Ratoola Kundu

Chairperson, Centre of Urban Policy and Governance, TISS Mumbai

Session I: 10:00 am to 11:30 am

Findings of the research – Right to the Street


Puja Bhattacharyya (Presidency University), Baidehi Das (Delhi School of Economics), Suman Choudhury (BE Shibpur), Dr. Anushyama Mukherjee, Dr. Ratoola Kundu


Mr. Murad Hussain

Hawker Sangram Committee

Prof. Mahalaya Chatterjee

Professor of Economics, University of Calcutta,  Centre of Urban Economic Studies

Dr. Saurabh Bhattacharjee

Assistant Professor, National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata

Dr. Tathagata Chatterji

Professor, Urban Management and Governance, Xaviers University, Bhubaneswar

Panel discussion I: 11:30am to 1:00pm

The road/street as a contested space: A multi stakeholder viewpoint

This session deals with the multiple and often conflicting claims that are made on the space of the streets and sidewalks stemming from the various different uses and users of the street in the Indian context. It will seek to understand the way in which streets and footpaths have changed historically in terms of their design and in relation to their context. The focus will be to understand how streets/roads are conceived of and designed and how this design then affects and influences social behaviour, accessibility and mobility. It will also delve into the issue of how multiple issues obstruct flows of pedestrians and vehicles such as laying of cables, disruption to infrastructures such as METRO and cables and fixing of water main etc. The session will also elicit perspectives from residents or citizens groups and market associations who have specific claims to the pavement and the streets – as pedestrians, in terms of access, in terms of business, also face issues such as road safety, parking, solid waste management, etc stemming from the multiple pressures on streets and footpaths.


Prof. Souvanic Roy

Professor and Founder- Director, School of Ecology, Infrastructure and Human Settlement Management, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur

  1. Mobility and Accessibility: Changing use/form of roads, traffic conditions and its implications on road safety and other issues

Dr Aparajita Chakroborty, Centre for Urban and Economic Studies, University of Kolkata

  1. Citizen perspective on hawking versus walking versus parking

Pradip Kakkar, Co-Founder, PUBLIC

  1. Road as infrastructure: Perspectives on road and footpath design, maintenance, widening and the conflicts that arise

Mr. Sudipto Pal (Traffic and Transportation expert, RITES Ltd.)

  1. Footpath as a resource: Perspectives of Shopkeepers

Mr. Uday Sahoo, Hogg Market Traders Association

Lunch- 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Panel Discussion II: 2:00pm to 3:30pm

Governance of Streets: Mediating Conflict

This session will broach the issue of governance, regulation and mediation of conflicts at the level of the street, neighbourhood and the city. This will look at the informal and formal channels of governance used, kind of trade-offs are made, spaces of participation, including different voices in the decision making, difficulties of making these decision, kind of support required by local leaders to address the conflicts that emerge on the streets.


Dr. Ritajyoti Bandopadhyay

Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali

  1. Self- regulation and role of hawkers union: How multiple conflicts and stakeholders play a role in a commercial area like Esplanade and the different institutions that are involved in regulating conflict

Mr. Debashish Das, Joint Secretary, and Mr. Shaktiman Ghosh Hawkers Sangram Committee

Role of Zilla Parishad and Panchayat leader in Rajarhat New Town area in reorganizing hawkers and rehabilitation into hawkers stalls

Jahanara Begum, (TMC) Member of Zilla Parishad, Chandpur, Bishnupur, Patharghata

  1. KMC’s role in dealing with hawkers and markets, how has it changed and what can be done in future to regulate hawking

Mr Shanatan Biswas, Deputy Director, Solid Waste Management Dept. KMC

Panel Discussion III: 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Informality and the Streets:  Multiple Actors and the mobilization of their claims at different scales

This session is about the informal codes, practices and institutions or collective associations that use and regulate the street and challenge current formal regulations, laws, and practices in order to include different, excluded, marginalised groups in claiming a stake to the city’s streets. From cycling groups to auto rickshaw unions, the discussion will also touch upon the national level mobilization and challenges with respect to implementing the SVA 2014 at the state and city level.


Mr. V Ramaswamy, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, activist, urbanist and academic

  1. Reclaiming the right to cycling in the City: the coalition of cycle enthusiasts and those whose livelihoods depend on the cycle

Dr Kallol Bhattacharya (President) Kolkata Cycle Samaj and Mr Raghu Jana (Convener), Kolkata Cycle Samaj

  1. Auto rickshaw unions and their political mobilization in Kolkata – challenges in negotiating city space.

Prof. Samita Sen, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University.

  1. National level efforts at mobilizing the hawkers and implementing SVA 2014 – the challenges and contestations.

Dr. Debdulal Saha, Assistant Professor, Centre for Labour Studies and Social Protection, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati.

Way forward and Vote of thanks: 4:30pm to 5pm


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