Liza Weinstein (Northeastern University)
Saumitra Sinha (University of North Carolina)
In February 2019, Urban and Regional Planning Associate Professor Andy Rumbach, along with colleagues at Northeastern University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, published a new article on urban development and coastal flooding in India in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. The full article, "Resilient Growth: Fantasy Plans and Unplanned Developments in India's Flood‐Prone Coastal Cities" is available online here.
In the face of rising seas and rapid growth, coastal cities in India have taken up the mantle of "resilience" in glossy climate action plans, high-profile international partnerships, and voluminous disaster management documents. And yet, while resilience has firmly entered the Indian city planning lexicon, environmentally destructive urban development continues largely unabated. What explains this seeming disconnect between the transformational goals of resilience planning and the everyday practices of
In this paper Rumbach and his colleagues examine the contradictions between global and national discourses of urban resilience planning and continuing patterns of destructive urban development, looking specifically at Kolkata and Mumbai, two of India's largest and most flood-affected cities. They argue that resilience planning, promoted by the central government and international consultants, and presented in locally produced "fantasy plans," fails to address the risks of flooding due to its tendency to sidestep questions of politics, power and the distributional conflicts that shape urban development. They conclude that analyses of governance and informality, and especially the politics of planned and unplanned development, should more directly inform studies of urban coastal flooding.
The paper is part of a symposium in IJURR on the future of urban political theory in light of hydrological crises in Asia. The symposium includes several terrific papers on the urban politics of coastal flooding.