The United Nations’ International Migrants Day is observed on December 18 to recognise the efforts, contributions and rights of migrants worldwide. The day is celebrated to identify and curb all kinds of violence and abuse faced by the migrants and their family members and advocate respect for their primary human rights.
UN member States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations observe the day through the dissemination of information on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, and through the sharing of experiences and the design of actions to ensure their protection.
Migrants constitute about one third of India’s urban population and the share has been increasing. The share of migrants in the urban population has increased from 31.6 per cent in 1983 to 33 per cent in 1999-2000 and to 35 per cent in 2007-2008 (NSSO 2007-2008). All three sectors of the Indian economy, agriculture, industry and services employ very large numbers of migrant workers. The major sub sectors using migrant labourers are textiles, construction, stone quarries and mines, brick kilns, small-scale industry and street vending.
There are 106 urban local bodies (ULBs) in Odisha and every urban body in the State has more or less migrant populations. Bhubaneswar as the capital city has attracted migrants from both rural and urban areas for better opportunity for business and employment. There is not enough provision for the housing and other infrastructural facility for the migrant people in the city. They suffer from poor living and working conditions, social isolation, poor access to basic amenities, while most of them settled down in slum pockets.
A majority of the world’s people live in urban areas, yet in India, the majority of the population is still rural. There are gaps in key development indicators between urban and rural dwellers in many low- and middle-income cities in India. The gap has started since India’s independence in 1947 and the country’s growth was based to develop urban areas more than the rural areas by introducing industrialisation and urban infrastructure. This has caused an imbalance between urban and rural areas. There is a linkage between the rural and urban development. These linkages matter because rural and urban livelihoods are interconnected economically and socially. From a rural perspective, most farmers depend on urban markets to secure their livelihoods. Rural households also depend on urban centers or small towns for various services as hospitals, banks, and Government offices etc. Likewise, urban areas are linked to the rural sector through several channels. For example, various urban businesses and enterprises depend on rural area for their goods and services. They also rely on rural areas for the supply of raw materials. Urban consumers, on the other hand, benefit from cheap and sustained food supply from rural areas.
Rural urban disparities in development influence migration pattern in Indian cities. This is due to imbalance in the level of development between rural and urban area. Opportunities in urban areas for employment and education etc have been a pull factor attracting migration from rural to urban areas and from smaller towns and cities to larger urban areas. The main reason for rural migrants to urban areas is high rates of unemployment, poverty, small size of land holdings and lack of infrastructural development. It leads to overpopulation of urban areas.
The global plan of action outlined in the Habitat Agenda emphasises the interdependence between urban and rural areas and the need to promote their balanced development. So, rural and urban areas should be connected by infrastructure, principally transport, electricity and telecommunication networks. Public policies and urban and regional plans can help support economic growth while protecting natural and agricultural land uses.
A majority of the villages in the country still face constraints such as access to education, health facilities, drinking water, power, roads etc. A Village Development Plans (VDPs) can be adopted to integrate development of the villages in an integrated manner. This would include economic development, infrastructural development and other aspects of human development i.e., education, health, drinking water supply etc.
The Constitution of India (under Article 19, which is a fundamental right of citizens) gives the right to citizens to travel, reside and carry out any trade, profession or business in any part of the country. The 73rd and 74th amendments initiated the processes for introducing institutional arrangements for seeking integrated development of settlements, areas and regions. For this purpose these amendments provide for two types of committees namely District Planning Committee and Metropolitan Planning Committee. These committees would ensure that the plans prepared by local bodies at village and town levels are integrated and accommodated within the framework of 20 to 25 years perspective plans and 5 years economic development plans prepared at the national and State levels.
Institute of Town Planners, India in the year 1995 conducted a study to detail out urban development plan formulation and implementation (UDPFI) guidelines. The basic purpose of the study was to arrive at a methodology of plan preparation that would not only help to prepare better master plans but also help in achieving integrated development of rural-urban areas. The UDPFI guidelines suggest various institutional support mechanisms that would help in achieving rural-urban integration.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Committee on Socio-Economic Measures to Alleviate Poverty in Rural and Urban Areas, at its meeting in December 2001, recommended that, “Governments pay more attention to the development of small and medium-sized towns and build the capacity for poverty alleviation of local Governments in those towns in order to reduce the pressure on mega-cities” .The United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC) High Level Segment in Geneva in 2003 urged Governments to “Promote rural-urban linkages by developing and strengthening a system of intermediate-size secondary and tertiary settlements (towns) to stimulate rural development as well as to minimize the negative impacts of rural-urban migration.
Despite these developments, there is a wide gap between rural and urban India with respect to technology, living condition and economic empowerment etc. Rural India mostly depends on agricultural sector.
The growth rate in primary sector (agriculture) is 2-3 per cent when compared to secondary and tertiary sector which are growing at the rate of 8-12 per cent. Due to this there is a large scale migration of labour forces from rural to urban in search of employment.
Urban-rural integration of the Yanliang district in China is a good example of this implementation mechanism. The integration strategy was designed to encompass urban-rural economic restructuring, coordination of urban-rural economic ties, unified planning of the urban-rural ecosystem, computerized management of the infrastructure in an attempt to develop urban and rural relationship.
This type of city model can be followed in India for rural-urban integration.
The United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on December 3 to focus on issues that affect people with disabilities worldwide.
This year’s theme is Inclusion matters: Access and empowerment for people of all abilities’ that seeks to reduce inequalities and remove barriers to equal participation for persons with disabilities in society. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) stipulates the importance of interventions to improve access to different domains of the environment including buildings, transportation, information, and communication.
The UN General Assembly in the recent years has repeatedly emphasised that the genuine achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals requires the inclusion and integration of the rights, and well-being, as well as the perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at national, regional and international levels.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in a 2011 study estimated that 15.3 per cent of the world’s population deals with some or the other kind of disability. In India the disabled population has increased by 22.4 per cent between 2001 and 2011. The number of disabled, which was 2.19 crore in 2001, rose in 2011 to 2.68 crore.
As per the 2001 Census, there were 10, 21,335 disabled persons in Odisha. As per the 2011 Census, the total disabled population is 12, 44,402, registering a growth of 21.84 per cent during the decade. The percentage of the State’s disabled population to total population has increased from 2.78 in the 2001 Census to 2.96 in the 2011 Census.
Disabled people face many obstacles in their day-to-day activities in public places. In some areas there is no proper access to move for a wheelchair user. This becomes a major hurdle for disabled people to move freely. Disabled friendly toilets are mostly absent in railway station, bus stand, Government offices, schools, colleges and hospitals. There are many housing issues which individuals with disabilities confront when trying to live in the community. In any new housing development in a city, most of the units are designed for general needs. However, among them 2 to 5 per cent are disabled people.
Disabled persons encounter many obstacles that prevent them from moving about freely and safely. Therefore, while designing the built environment, adequate space should be allocated for persons using mobility devices, e.g. wheelchairs, crutches and walkers, as well as those walking with the assistance of other persons. Attention should be given to dimensions of wheelchairs used locally. This decides the width of entrances and exits, width of the passage / corridor, lift size and toilet size. A wheelchair may be operated by the user alone or with a helper’s assistance for Non-Ambulatory. Design requirements for Semi-Ambulatory include, width of passage for crutch users, finishes of floor surface with non slip floor material, installation of handrail to support the body weight at the critical places such as staircase, toilet, ramp, passage with a change of level, extension of handrail on the flat landing at the top and bottom of the stairs to prevent slipping off the cane or crutch from the side of the stairs or ramps. Persons with totally blind or with impaired vision make use of other senses such as hearing or touch to compensate for the lack of vision. It is necessary to give instructions accessible through the sense of touch (hands, fingers or legs).
Design requirements include, use of guiding blocks for persons with impaired vision to guide them within the buildings and outside the building, installation of information board in Braille, installation of audible signage (announcements) and sufficient walking space for safe walking. Hearing Disabilities Persons in this category are totally deaf or have difficulty in hearing. They generally use their sight to gather information in public places. Design requirements include provision of information board in an easily understandable manner, layout diagrams to help the persons easily reach the desired place. Barrier Free Environment may be applied for residential buildings, commercial buildings, hospitals, educational institutions, religious centers etc.
Today information and communication technologies in particular have impacted a lot of people’s daily lives. However, not all people have access to technology and the higher standards of living it allows. A number of cities and metropolitan areas around the world are implementing the “Smart City” concept. The smart city mission in India is to improve the quality of life in 100 fast growing urban centers, including Bhubaneswar. The aim is to increase all citizens quality of life and to improve the efficiency and quality of the services provided by city planning authorities. Smart cities can be a place where the disabled feel free to move in public places. But in Bhubaneswar the majority of the public places are not barrier free.
Most of the early considerations around smart cities have been about better use of energy, more efficient traffic flow and smart services. Besides, the smart city should provide more inclusive environment for the disabled people to participate in the smart environment. For example, a wheelchair user going to the shopping, public places, railway stations and airports should be able to identify the ideal route to the particular area. The open spaces are designed in such a manner that they can be used by everyone.
This approach to the smart city planning process will benefit the disabled persons. At least 2-5 per cent of the residential buildings in the city should be made accessible to persons with disabilities by providing disabled-friendly lifts, toilets as well as signage. In order to meet the need of particularly disabled people in housing, the house should be as barrier-free as possible. Before building any apartment house for the handicapped, it is advisable to note street conditions and access to transportation. Besides, small-scale modifications within the housing complexes like provision of ramps for wheel chair may be required to get in and out of their homes. For the convenience of wheelchair-bound persons the authority should provide lifts and widen the doorway for them as far as practicable.
Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1996 enacted by the Government of India on January 1, 1996 is to create barrier free environment for persons with disabilities and to make special provisions for the integration of persons with disabilities into the social mainstream.
Odisha Government has enacted Persons with Disabilities (Equal opportunities, Protection of right and full participation) Odisha Rules, 2003. As per the rules the buildings, places, transportation systems for public use will be made barrier free.