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Planning and Geography

Declining Cities in an Emerging Economy - The Case of Varanasi

Saswat Badopadhyay, CEPT University (Center for Environmental Planning and Technology), India
Wednesday 22nd May 2013 - 12:00pm
Room 1.65, Glamorgan Building

Public lecture hosted by the Spatial Planning and City Environments Research Group.

Saswat Bandyopadhyay is a Professor of Environmental Planning at the CEPT University (Center for Environmental Planning and Technology), Ahmedabad, India and spearheading research and professional activities related to Urban Planning, governance and urban capacity challenges.

Varanasi, situated on the banks of river Ganga, stands among the India’s most significant historic urban landscapes. It has recorded continuity of settlements and culture since 1000 BCE. Officially known as Varanasi, the city is known to its patrons with many names such as Kashi for the pilgrims and Benares to foreign visitors. The city is also one of the major destinations for International visitors and Buddhist pilgrims from South-East Asia.  

In spite of this significance and importance, Varanasi, today, is an ordinary Indian city- struggling with basic service delivery issues, decaying of urban core and housing stocks, lack of  opportunities for city youth and unsustainable tourism activities. In the last national sanitation survey conducted among 423 Indian cities, Varanasi ranked at 331st, falling under the RED category-indicating urgent attention required towards environmental public health issues. With urban service delivery and management responsibilities fragmented among several state and local actors, abysmally low local financial status, Varanasi, today, truly represents a declining Indian city.

While  the national government aiming at 90% growth in economy, most of which (estimated at 70%) is expected from the Indian cities, famously tagged as "engines of economic growth" and India as an Emerging economy. This presentation and talk will provide an overview of a research at CEPT University, focusing on city development challenges of rapidly declining Indian cities and related governance issues.