Coming up

Thu, 19th October 2023

6:30 PM IST


Nagar Raj in Western India - Devolution in cities of Gujarat and Maharashtra  

Part 1

Cities in Western India are engines of economic growth, and as a result are prone to rapid urbanisation, putting severe stress on the planning and governance mechanism, so very essential to the orderly growth of our towns and cities, that is even if they do exist.  The larger challenge is when they do not exist, and our cities are a victim of unplanned growth and poor governance. These cities face extreme challenges, as they try to cater to the pressures of  development, infrastructure, growing population, social challenges and unplanned growth, further compounded by the growing impact of climate change.  

In this webinar (in 2 parts), we hold the lens on the state of Urban planning, Governance and Civic participation in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, the progress made in their urban centres, in terms of decentralisation, devolution, planning and governance, and we discuss where it ought to be headed next.  

In Part 1 Session on this topic, we are joined by grass root activists, practitioners and academia with depth of experience and insights, to set the stage for a very thought provoking discussion.  Please join Varsha Vidya Vilas, Dr. Gayatri Doctor, Dr Amita Bhide, Sitaram Shelar and Krishnakant Chauhan in discussion with Sandeep Anirudhan.


Varsha Vidya Vilas, 

Convenor, Nagar Swaraj Forum  

Varsha works as a community organiser at the grass roots on various social issues and causes, especially among the vulnerable sections of population.  She has been part of various campaigns that establish the 4th layer of democracy, i.e. the area sabhas, as part of the setting up of model area sabhas in various parts of Mumbai.  She has been part of collaborations and knowledge sharing to establish best practices to implement 74th Amendment in the grass roots, to establish ward committees and area sabhas in Gujarat and Maharashtra.  

Dr. Gayatri Doctor                

Sr.Associate Professor,  Program Chair- Master of Urban Management, CEPT University

Dr Gayatri Doctor, is Program Chair, Masters in Urban Management Program and an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Management, CEPT University, Ahmedabad. She has experience in the IT Industry and has been in Academics for more than two decades. Currently engaged in the field of Urban Management from a technology perspective. Her interest areas are Smart Cities, e-governance, open data, data-driven decisions & exploring emerging technologies, their applications, user acceptance, and challenges in the urban context. She has a number of publications in International Journals, Conferences.

Dr Amita Bhide

Professor, Centre for Urban Policy and Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. 

Prof. Amita Bhide is currently Professor, Centre for Urban Policy and Governance; and Chair Professor in Jal Jeevan Mission in the School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She has been deeply involved in issues related to urban poor communities, community organisation and housing rights movements and advocacy groups. She has extensively researched urban development, urban local governance and planning, water and sanitation, housing and land issues. She has headed several action research projects that seek to create a model of inclusive development in Indian cities. She attempts to develop a theoretical and action model of urbanisation that is relevant for the global south through an engagement with several transformative groups at the city, provincial and national scales.

The geographic focus of her work is Mumbai while more recent engagement is with small and medium towns. She also heads the Transforming M Ward Project, a Field Action Project that seeks to create a model of inclusive urban development in M East Ward, the poorest municipal ward in Mumbai.

Sitaram Shelar, 

Director, Center for Promoting Democracy (CPD)   

Sitaram Shelar is engaged in the social development sector. Initially worked in areas of youth development and Peace-Harmony. His core interest areas are Urban Governance, Housing, and Right to water. Being convener of Pani Haq Samiti he played an effective role in campaigning the Right to water in urban areas of Maharashtra. 

He campaigned for the implementation of Ward Committees and Area Sabhas in Mumbai with many community-led experimental initiatives. He is persistently involved in judicial advocacy for the speedy implementation of the Community Participation Law enacted in 2009. He has been active in the people's campaign Hamara Shehar Mumbai on the Development Plan of Mumbai 2014-2034 which has negotiated with the government to create a people-centric development plan of the city.

He has actively campaigned and initiated networks for advocacy for citizen’s rights to water, sanitation, housing, and participatory governance. He writes about the Right to water, Participatory Urban Governance, and Concerns of Equitable Development Planning.

Krishnakant Chauhan, 

Participatory Urban Governance & Green Activist

Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti 

Krishankant Chauhan has been active for more than 25 years in activism for a better society and better world for all, engaged as a member of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) with issues of environment and participatory governance.  Works on issues related to water pollution, organic farming, protection and conservation of nature, issues of migrant workers, participatory governance, communal harmony, and peace and justice.

PSS's campaigns have resulted in various landmark Supreme Court verdicts for protection of the environment and water. With the vision that democracy not only means mutely voting a government to power, it also entails active involvement and participation of citizens in decision-making, Krishnakant has been promoting participatory governance model drawing strength from the implementation of the 74th Constitutional Amendment. Have written a research paper on the implementation of the 74th CAA in various states of India.


Sandeep Anirudhan, 


After a career in entrepreneurship and management, he quit conventional life completely to serve a larger purpose, and plunged himself completely into Sustainability Advocacy in all domains.  He has built several communities, which play catalysing roles in generating awareness and action, in areas as diverse as Sustainability, Regeneration, Citizen Engagement and Participation, Grass-root Democracy, Water Security, Urban Planning & Governance, Sustainable Mobility, Natural Farming, Conservation, Climate Action, Green Citizenship and Lake Citizenship, etc.,  The Urban citizenship initiatives he convenes are ‘‘Citizens’ Agenda for Bengaluru’, ‘Namma Whitefield’ and ‘Bengaluru Mobility’, and relentlessly pursues the agenda of 74th Amendment implementation through these. His planetary citizenship initiatives are ‘Aikyam Community for Sustainable Living’, ‘Coalition for Water Security’, ‘Green Tweet Army’ and ‘Save Pattandur Agrahara Lake’. He is also an active proponent of the Natural Farming movement. Through all of these, he’s been promoting 'conscious living' on our planet.  Deriving inspiration from both the ‘Constitution of India’ and ‘Hind Swaraj’ by Gandhiji, his personal and public lives are examples of 'minimalism', 'gift economy' and community engagement.