India’s urbanization is rapid, fragmented and inequitable. Shrinking municipal budgets, rising real estate prices, significant housing and infrastructure deficits and awareness that local capacities and local autonomy are critical for resilient urbanisation, have refocused attention on land. There is acknowledgement that urban land is constituted of multiple social, economic and environmental values and relations, often difficult to monetize, and susceptible to financial displacement in speculative market conditions. Yet, concurrently pressures to capture land “as asset” value for metropolitan development financing are increasing, especially in India where municipalities remain dependent on state and national governments for operational and capital expenditures. In addition to municipalities, multiple public, private and public- private agencies in urban areas are now leveraging land as a financing resource.
Given that cities of the south are characterized by informality, inequality, speculation, multiple tenurial regimes, multiple urban governance bodies and exclusive property sale markets, often accessible to a small proportion of urban residents, research is needed to assess the appropriateness of current land based financing instruments in relation to prevailing institutional, transactional and governance conditions, and assess their potential to redirect city- level investments to achieve equitable results. This, in turn, would inform theoretical frameworks better suited to the Indian (and global south) urban contexts.
This research stream aims to contextualise land based financing instruments in relation to the institutional, market and governance conditions prevailing in the Indian urban context and inform more appropriate theoretical frameworks, which address concerns of equity, inclusion and sustainability in cities of the south.
Indicatively, research questions will include:
What are the forms and processes of land based finance gaining importance in the Indian urban context and what are the discourses, imperatives and projects shaping these modalities?
How are land ‘values’ assessed in land based finance instruments and how do these relate to prevailing land market conditions, and alternate notions of land ‘value’ in the urban land economy?
How are governance conditions and institutional imperatives, including public- private modalities of planning, development, financing and management affecting the design and deployment of land based finance?
How are different practices of leveraging land for finance, related to the geographies and temporalities of investment, infrastructure and spatial development in urban and periurban areas?