Cities, eco-systems and embedded expressions: Towards performative regeneration
– Anjali Karol Mohan, Mohan S. Rao and Rahul Paul

This paper traces the shift from sustainability – argued to be an ‘exhausted term’ – to regenerative cities. The regenerative concept, in its current conceptualisation, while an advancement over sustainability, remains limited. A critical reading reveals how it suffers from certain implicit pathologies that had previously relegated similar concepts to elusive labels. These pathologies include the commodified perception of human-nature relationships and the inability to translate to local level action. The paper shows how these pathologies can be tackled through decentralized planning frameworks that align themselves to the aspirational agenda of regenerative cities. By drawing on the example of three Indian cities, it shows how planning can achieve the ‘action’ of regenerative relationships, by drawing on the ‘knowledge’ of socio-ecological interdependencies embedded in the purported human-nature binary. As evidenced by Ranchi, Puri and Coimbatore, these embedded socio-ecological linkages, expressed in livelihoods and every-day practices, represent anchor points for regenerative process and synergies. Overall the paper puts forward a planning framework that can direct translation of the regenerative cities concept especially in cities of the global South.

1. Introduction
The call for moving beyond sustainability, towards regeneration, especially in the context of the urban, is gaining increasing traction. Touted as an ‘exhausted term’1, sustainability renders itself insufficient to frame urban challenges appropriately and accurately as well as locate solutions within this framing. Thus, there is the need to move from a mere sustenance of life to fix daunting challenges, unpack inefficiencies and systemic and structural imbalances to regenerate systems and or territories. In 2010, an international call for regenerative cities framed the concept as one that seeks to address the relationship between cities and their hinterland, and beyond that with the more distant territories that the cities are dependent on. Creating regenerative cities implies initiating comprehensive political, financial and technological strategies for an environmentally enhancing, restorative relationship between cities and the ecosystems from which they draw resources for their sustenance2. This focus on cities and eco-systems was heightened around the Habitat III discussions with a call for regenerative and resilient cities3.

A decade hence, despite efforts in this direction – Adelaide is setting up a new green economy, Copenhagen aims to be CO2-neutral by 2025, and Denmark intends to be independent of fossil fuels by 2050 –the challenge of matching the idealistic vision of regenerative cities with the multi-layered local socio-political, cultural and environmental expressions remains4. This is especially true for the Southern cities as these are doubly disadvantaged. First, the rapid and unprecedented urbanisation, occurring in the global South has manifested in negative socio-ecological transitions. Second, the current urban planning and management approaches are shaped by and tailored to the global North contexts and, are therefore unable to respond to the transitions in the Southern cities. Planning continues to be driven by occidental paradigms whose technocratic framing of land, society and natural resources is unsuited to the characteristic socio-ecological dynamics of the cities in the South5,6,7. Further, given international commitments emphasizing the role of urban planning in initiating regeneration8,9, a fundamental realignment of the existing planning approaches emerges an imperative. This paper responds to this imperative.

Section Two of this paper traces the debates around the newly acquired ‘label’ of regenerative cities to establish (or not) its distinctiveness from sustainability. While an advancement from sustainability, with its integrative view of cities and ecosystems and focus on enhancement beyond preservation, it suffers from certain pathologies, two of which are critical: i) a commodified perception, usually in binaries, of human-nature relationships; and, ii) the inability to translate to local level action. Section Three draws upon three Indian cities -Ranchi, Puri and Coimbatore- to argue how rational planning, with its binary framing of the relationship between cities and natural landscapes is reductionist. The section traces the historic evolution of the three cities to foreground a complex yet dynamic relationship between these human settlements and the natural landscapes they inhabit. Such a reading of cities, this section argues, calls for moving beyond a technocratic understanding of cities to acknowledging and foregrounding the embedded socio-cultural constructions – expressed in livelihoods and everyday practices – as vital to steering cities around regenerative cultures.
Section Four concludes with the argument that translating the aspirational agenda of regenerative cities to ground reality will require planning frameworks that are anchored within the uncodified knowledge of embedded socio-ecological interdependencies reflecting cities as relational socio-ecological assemblages. Ground-up planning enabled through an understanding of restorative synergies between actors, enterprises and territories is the need of the hour. Methodologically it translates into tracing and understanding the historical evolution of human settlements.
2. Sustainable or regenerative cities: persisting older challenges; mounting contemporary concerns
The sustainability concept emanated from the Brundtland Commission in 1987 linked environment and development to define sustainable development as one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs10. Since then, the concept has evolved to an orthodoxy in both public and private urban discourse11. While public policy projects an ‘idealistic’ vision of sustainability dominated by occidental value systems, the private sector advocates for ‘ecological modernization’ and ‘eco-efficiency’12. On ground however, much remains unaccomplished with old challenges of basic services persisting and, new ones of mitigating climate change and ecological disasters mounting. Overall, sustainability is criticised on its un-holistic approach that emphasizes certain dimensions at the expense of others13.

It is this context that led to the emergence of the regenerative cities concept premised on the need to correct the neutrality of sustainability from merely restoring or sustaining to positively enhancing the ecosystems cities are dependent on. Drawing from the ‘radical ecologism’ movement14, the concept was popularized largely through Girardet’s work for the International Commission on Cities and Climate Change. Subsequently, the Habitat III enshrined the first exclusive urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG #11), arguably a watershed in global development discourse on cities15. While the goal does not explicitly mention regeneration, it aims towards inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities through a range of metrics and indicators. Subsequently, the New Urban Agenda (NUA) amongst its transformative commitments for sustainable urban development, emphasised “preserving and promoting the ecological and social function of land…… to fostering ecosystem-based solutions to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, so that the ecosystem’s regenerative capacity is not exceeded”16.

Conceptually, regenerative cities are those where urban development is powered by renewable energy, driven by a circular economy and defined by a restorative and mutually beneficial relationship between cities and their hinterland. Regenerative cities aim to correct the entropy generated by the city’s current linear metabolism by mimicking nature’s circular metabolism and operating in a closed-loop system that transforms waste outputs into inputs of value. Towards this end, it emphasizes the synergies between various forms of capital, actors and territories as vital17. In effect, it translates into creating cities that do not deplete resources and damage ecosystems while actively contributing to regenerating natural resources they consume and the ecosystem services they rely on18. Thus, the regenerative concept is an advancement on the sustainability concept in terms highlighting the need to move from linear metabolism to circular metabolism.

Yet, it repeats the paradigmatic insufficiencies of the sustainability concept, on at least two counts. First, the concept alludes to the commodified perception of human-nature relationships. The primacy given to economic logic is evidenced in the use of utilitarian frameworks to conceptualize natural system dynamics (for example, ecosystem services, ecological footprints, fair shares, sink and source capacities, efficiency factors) while continuing to equate growth with consumption. The technocratic focus on financial, political, technological strategies19 ignores vital social and cultural systems of relationship and knowledge20.

Second, similar to the challenge of translating sustainability into implementable projects and programmes21,22, the regeneration concept too has little or no focus on implementation. Question around how the highly ambitious global agendas and concepts will percolate to the sub-national and local levels, what would be the modus-operandi and who are the likely and critical stakeholders, remain. Implementation is further compromised given an outdated and irrelevant planning processes. Hence, while an alignment with the planning approaches is important, clarity on appropriate methodologies and relevant stakeholders is critical to move from concept to action. Given these limitations, the concept is at the risk of emerging as yet another ‘urban label’ masking underlying contradictions even while it steers multiple stakeholders to foreground visions on how cities should look, function, and be lived in23,24. In other words, despite its insufficiencies, the concept is performative.

We argue that for regeneration to be meaningfully performative, it needs to break the binary of man-nature relationships. To do so, the urban should necessarily be viewed through an ecological time frame. Such a reading reveals the inherent inter-dependencies between humans, their artefacts and cultural constructs while pointing to how these exists as an integrated ecosystem replete with socio-ecological interdependencies manifesting in food security, livelihoods, access to basic services to name a few. Methodologically, such a reading would assist in anchoring restorative processes and synergies, critical to translating the aspirational agenda of regenerative cities. While urban planning frameworks present an ideal politico-legal structural space for this, a re-alignment towards a rooted understanding of cities that looks beyond the economic logic to comprehend socio-ecological expressions and values is an emerging imperative.

Current approaches to planning Southern cities are widely acknowledged as both inadequate and inappropriate. Criticised as ‘borrowed’ and/or ‘imposed’ by the global North through complex processes of colonialism and globalization25, planning is predicated on forecasting and management models, calling for a rational /orderly development of cities through strict spatial segregation of land uses. This imposition of the rational (often equated with the scientific) order over all other orders (by extension irrational/ disorderly) has over a prolonged period of time weakened traditional, yet matured knowledge and governance systems26. Scholars and practitioners argue these models in themselves are a part of the problem,27,28,29,30,31,32 leading to a call for a fundamental realignment of planning approaches as an equally valid goal.

The next section draws upon three city-regions in India to trace the interdependencies between cities and eco-systems, elucidating the embedded expressions of livelihoods and socio-cultural practices, critical to rectify the current-day flawed planning processes. The cities of Puri, Ranchi, and Coimbatore while representative of small, medium and large urban scales, are similar along several dimensions33. Critically, all three are located alongside rivers and have a history beginning between 5th and 10th century AD. Historically, the river has, and continues to be an important water source. More importantly, all three cities exhibit a deeper socio-ecological relationship with the myriad natural landscape. Over centuries, the settlements have evolved in tandem with what is referred to as the ‘natural capacity’ of land. In all three city-regions, the authors had an opportunity to understand the inefficacy of the top-down rational planning processes while constructing bottom-up counter processes/ narratives rooted in the historical evolution of the settlements as traced in the next section. Such a reading, we argue, provides a critical insight into framing a multi-dimensional human-nature relationship, one that emanates from and is rooted in the ground realities. By extension, the frameworks are more likely implementable.
3. Enshrining regenerative urbanism as an organising principle
3.1 Natural resource-based amenities for cities and the urban poor: Ranchi, Jharkhand
Ranchi city in Jharkhand province in Eastern India supports a population of 1,073,44034. Once a settlement of the Munda and Oraon tribes, the city has a topography that is dotted with hillocks and forests. Located alongside the Subarnarekha river, historically, the city was dependent on the river for its water. Embedded within this dependency were livelihoods and other everyday socio-cultural transactions. Contemporary Ranchi, as many cities in India and the global South, is a dual city characterized by the formal and the informal, expressed as the planned and the unplanned35. Within this duality, the informal settlements or the ‘unplanned’ city is the least prioritized by city governments, especially for provision of basic services are. A reading of Ranchi’s historical trajectory points to these informal settlements as the original inhabitants of the city – mainly tribal populations. Over time, rapid urbanisation has engulfed these settlements and now they exist as urban villages, classified as informal settlements or slums in formal planning paradigms. Pertinently, statutory frameworks restrict land transactions in these urban villages. The government land records last updated in early 20th century evidence an anthropological relationship between land and the tribal communities. Interviews and discussions with the inhabitants point to community ownership of land as against the concept of private ownership. Lands were earmarked for purposes such as agriculture (rajhas), religious activities (sarana), and community dancing and celebration (akhar).

Image 1. Map of informal settlements in Ranchi. Source: Author.

Communities are largely agrarian and water requirements were and, in some places, continue to be serviced through community-managed water sources such as open wells, talabs (tanks) and dadis. The latter are 4-5 ft deep depressions made in the floodplains that are designed to filter water which can be then used for domestic and irrigation purposes. A typical settlement has residential space dotted with open wells, surrounded by agricultural fields that lead to the dadi and finally towards the river. Embedded within this landscape are numerous livelihoods and every-day socio-cultural practices. A careful profiling of the settlement shows how residents, over generations, have developed and nurtured deep connections to the land and the embedded natural resources, especially the river.

Unmanaged urbanization has disrupted these dependencies. In 2019, the city faced its worst water shortage. Rapid urbanization, while increasing the demand for water has also polluted the river largely through the discharge of untreated wastewater. In turn, several surface and sub-surface water systems such as wells, tanks and ponds along the floodplains of the rivers – sources that were used and maintained by the tribals – stand polluted. Thus, social systems of land ownership, reliance on, and nurturing of commons – stand severed, alienating communities from basic services and entitlements like food and livelihoods. Piped water supply is accessible to a mere 35-40% of the city’s residents residing, notably, in the formal/planned city. Lack of sanitation has led to grey water flowing into the fields at a lower elevation, in turn, impacting livelihoods and food security. Agricultural fields are gradually transitioning to waste lands, while fish from the water can no longer be consumed. Increased concretisation in the hinterland and the settlement has reduced water percolation leading to flooding and stagnation.

Yet, interaction with communities in these urban villages displayed an in-depth experiential knowledge of the natural systems dynamic that remain unacknowledged within the top-down rational planning processes of the city governments. The symbiotic relationship of the source (wells), livelihoods (agriculture) and cultural practices (river) are perceived as fragmented and isolated concerns, addressed by the municipality through promises of piped water and sanitation infrastructure. Such promises have created a vicious cycle with communities further neglecting the traditional sources of water. It is in this context that collaborative -involving communities, local elected representatives and non-governmental organisation (NGO)- conception and implementation of water security interventions, premised on the familiar everyday practices were initiated, focusing largely on reviving community water systems and associated livelihood practices.

Image 2. Building resilience in informal settlements. Source: Author.

As against the centralised engineered system of piped water, decentralised management of rain water was initiated through a) restoring, repairing and reviving the community wells in the settlements; b) decentralised grey water management, through grey water dispersion trenches and pits to ensure flow of treated water into the downstream paddy fields; and c) twin pit systems for toilet and black water management. The surface movement of rain water through common areas of the settlements while ensuring a freshwater source for the settlement, also assists in controlling flooding and preventing the stagnation of water in low-lying areas.

The decentralized interventions rely on passive technologies which, by definition are nature-based and is what the communities have always understood and practiced. While not requiring massive capital investment these effectively address basic service provision deficit, while reviving livelihoods and socio-cultural connections. Importantly, these are not positioned as ‘instead of’ alternatives to piped water supply and sanitation. Rather, these aim to augment sources of freshwater supply, thereby decreasing a reliance on groundwater and formal institutional mechanisms while offering a model of grounds-up problem framing and resolution.

Image 3. Rejuvenation of existing open wells through community participation. Source: Author.

3.2 Situating cultural landscapes in contemporary urban development: Puri, Odisha
The city of Puri in the province of Odisha on the Eastern coast of India has a history dating back to the 5th century. The old city is located between the Musa river to the North and the Bay of Bengal to the South. The coastal city is home to a variety of landscapes ranging from the littoral forests to sandy beaches. The Musa while not a geographical barrier is a marker of the sacredness of Puri. Yet, contemporary Puri, hosting a population of 201,0236 has expanded to occupy territories to the North of the Musa, which itself is no more than a water channel in the current densely urbanised landscape.

The city is religiously significant as it hosts the Jaganatha Temple, a designated Char Dham site for the Hindus37. Intricately woven within the city’s religious and cultural fabric are diverse ecological terrains creating a vibrant and dynamic, yet complex environment, one that is replete with every-day socio-cultural transactions and livelihoods. Most of the city’s economy remains linked to the temple operations. An exploration of the interactions between the ecological and religious spaces of Puri reveals the relationship between natural ecosystems and the cultural heritage that defines and sustains the city. For example, the location of a Matha (religious institution), pokhari (open tank, used for bathing, washing and rearing fish), Pushkarani (constructed tank used for ritualistic purposes) and, a sacred grove or a garden when overlaid with the ecological terrain points to an intricate spatial, functional, and symbolical interconnection, embedded within which are myriad shades of livelihoods and cultural practices.

Image 5. Distribution of the cultural landscape within the city of Puri. Source: Author.

These intricately interwoven relationships are rarely acknowledged in the top-down planning that continues to focus on rational segregation of land-uses in pursuit of order and efficiency, thus leading to fragmented landscapes. For instance, land under sacred forests / groves is interpreted as land available for expanding the urban. Similarly, the river front is conceptualized as a recreational landscape as opposed to a critical element of the cultural landscape of Puri. In contrast, a historical reading of the Musa and its relevance for the city, coupled with an appreciation of the derived cultural landscapes establishes the Northern bank of the Musa as the profane and the Southern as the scared.

A regenerative approach to Puri calls for a reconnection with historically developed cultural, ecological, and economic patterns that characterize the landscape38. Conservation of the cultural landscape both as an identity marker as well as an expression of every-day socio-economic practices is an emerging imperative. It calls for interventions that are embedded within the millennia old relationship that has shaped the cultural landscape of the city. Efforts towards such a contextually relevant redevelopment framework began with a granular, yet comprehensive understanding of the city’s landscape by a) recognizing the inter-relatedness of the wetland system, water courses and open ponds and the associated social and cultural practices; b) researching and recording the corresponding shifts in the ecology and the human settlement patterns from the 5th to the 21th century; and, c) establishing the ecological rationale for the traditional water systems and attendant management strategies. The layered analysis revealed the inter-relatedness of the biological, geological, hydro-logical and social elements of the cultural landscape. The framework therefore set as its aim the re-establishing of linkages and treating these spaces as an integrated whole within which the Musa River was dealt with differently. Considering the cultural conceptions of the north and south banks, the former was allocated with recreational activities, while proposals for the latter included biodiversity parks as an extension of the scared groves, bathing ghats, access to the river and space for rituals. Both banks remain accessible to the public and interventions are designed such that the river and the pokhari’s are not fragmented.

Image 6. The Pokharis related to the existing ashrams and the Sacred Gardens of the temple – as socio-cultural expressions. Source: Author.

3.3 Conceptualizing integrated landscapes to provision contemporary cities: Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
The city of Coimbatore supporting a population of 1,601,43839 evolved from a small village on the banks of River Noyyal. Originally a part of the Kongu country and inhabited by the Kosar tribes40, the landscape is characterised by a network of system and non-system eris (man-made water tanks) and agricultural lands41. Together, the Noyyal river basin, the eris and connecting valleys play a crucial and significant role in the regional landscape and the contemporary city. The eris were built to store run-off from the catchment. Water from the river is directed into eris through channels called anicuts. Located within this intricate system of eris, anicuts, interspersed with agricultural land are livelihoods and interdependencies linked to food and the agrarian economy. In addition, the eris constituted the initial nuclei for urban growth, although rapid urbanization perceived these as barriers to urban expansion. Spatially, the city developed concentrically in the initial years. Subsequently, growth occurred linearly along major roads.

Image 7. Positioning the city with respect to the natural systems. Source: Author.

Though the city shares an ancient and intricate relationship with the natural landscape, rapid uninformed urbanization encroached – formally and informally – the city’s eris. A closer examination reveals that a large part of the government sanctioned formal development – housing units, bus depots, roads, railway tracks and electric sub-stations and institutions – is on the tank beds. Furthermore, informal settlements dot the tank bunds and the anicuts that drain into the tank. Those that are not encroached remain under threat due to land use changes, catchment diversion and pollution. The story of the river is not any different. It is encroached and used for dumping municipal waste and construction debris. As the city sprawls, encroachments, both formal and informal are noticed alongside the wetlands and their supply channels.

Image 8. Informal settlement along the Natural Systems. Source: Author.

Government sanctioned plans recommend removing the informal settlements, identifying strategies for their relocation and resettlement while using the space freed up thus as recreational urban space. This approach failed to conceptualise the eris, anicuts and agricultural lands as landscape elements that work in tandem to manage floods, address urban heat islands and ameliorate microclimates while supporting livelihoods, providing food security and enabling other socio-cultural practices.

The aim of restoring and establishing regenerative relationships with the city’s water systems cannot address its elements in isolation as this will only compromise the natural potential of this landscape. Reviving and strengthening the balance amongst these elements of the landscape is therefore an emerging imperative, one that will provision the contemporary city and create long term resilience. With this objective, an extensive blue green network was established and mapped to connect, activate and sustain critical natural systems. This translated into interventions for catchment area protection, storm water management, enhancing the storage capacity and health of the eris and flood plain management, thus re-establishing the eris and the associated natural channels as critical regional determinants and drivers of development.

Image 9. Creation and operationalization of an extended green blue infrastructure network to connect, activate and sustain critical natural systems. Source: Author.

4. Conclusions
This paper explores regenerative urbanism and its relevance and applicability in Southern cities. The concept while holding potential in redressing urbanization induced ecological disruption, requires frameworks beyond a reductionist and commodified man-nature relationships. Further translating it into the ‘real space’42 through practices that formalize and facilitate restorative synergies is an emerging imperative. Towards this goal, planning frameworks require re-orientation to align with the regenerative city agenda. Drawing upon three Indian cities, the paper contrasts the bottom-up perspectives emanating from a historical reading of the evolution of the city with the top-down rational planning interventions. Such a historical reading of settlements, the paper argues, negates the conception of man and nature as separate interacting systems. Rather, the reading points to embedded interdependencies of myriad shades and hues developed and nurtured by societies as they evolve in tandem with their landscapes.

Drawing upon three cities in India, the paper makes an argument for a shift in planning cities by drawing on the ‘knowledge’ of the numerous linkages – economic, ecological and socio-cultural between cities and their hinterlands to operationalise the ‘action’ of regenerative urbanism. These linkages need to be unpacked, foregrounded and further leveraged to provision contemporary cities. This necessitates a decentralized, participatory and reflective process. By bridging the hierarchical and sectoral separations that characterize state-society relations, bottom-up planning processes can leverage experiential knowledge of stakeholders to frame holistic approaches. Such an approach, this paper argues can potentially rectify the ailing current planning processes for the Southern cities and catalyse the regenerative cities vision. It operationalises Friedman’s conceptualization of planning practice as one that connects ‘forms of knowledge with forms of action in the public domain’43.

1. Hand, G. H., Weber, R., and Bluestone, N. (2016). RegenLA: Los Angeles Beyond Sustainability. [online]. Available at:—la-regenerative.html.
2. Girardet, H. (2010). Regenerative Cities. Hamburg: Commission on Cities and Climate Change, World Future Council.
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4. Mehmood, A., and Roep, D. (2019). Regenerative city-regions: a new conceptual framework. Regional Studies, Regional Science, 6(1), pp. 117-129.
5. Watson, V. (2009). ‘The planned city sweeps the poor away…’: Urban planning and 21st century urbanisation. Progress in Planning, 72 (3), pp. 151-193
6. Batra, L. (2009). A review of urbanisation and urban policy in post-independent India. New Delhi: Centre for the Study of Law and Governance.
7. Bhan, G. (2016). In the public’s interest: evictions, citizenship, and inequality in contemporary Delhi. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
8. Girardet, H. (2010). Regenerative Cities.
9. Girard, F.L. (2014). The regenerative city and wealth creation/conservation: the role of urban planning. International Journal of Global Environmental Issues 6, 13(2-4), pp. 118-140.
10. The Brundtland Commission was established by the United Nations in 1983, under the chairmanship of the former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland to rally countries to work and pursue sustainable development together.
11. Mehmood, A., and Roep, D. (2019). Regenerative city-regions: a new conceptual framework. pp. 117-129.
12. du Plessis, C. (2012). Towards a regenerative paradigm for the built environment. Building Research & Information, 40(1), pp. 7-22.
13. Mehmood, A., and Roep, D. (2019). Regenerative city-regions: a new conceptual framework. pp. 117-129.
14. du Plessis, C. (2012). Towards a regenerative paradigm for the built environment. pp. 8.
15. Parnell, S. (2016). Defining a global urban development agenda. World Development, 78, pp. 529-540.
16. United Nations (2017). New Urban Agenda. Habitat III, United Nations.
17. Girard, F.L. (2014). The regenerative city and wealth creation/conservation: the role of urban planning. pp. 118-140.
18. World Future Council, (2016) The City we Need is a Regenerative City.
19. Girardet, H. (2010). Regenerative Cities.
20. du Plessis, C. (2012). Towards a regenerative paradigm for the built environment. pp. 8.
21. Satterthwaite, D. (2016). A new urban agenda? Environment and Urbanization, 28(1), pp. 3-12.
22. Caprotti, F., Cowley, R., Datta, A., Broto, V. C., Gao, E., Georgeson, L., Herrick, C., Odendaal, N., and Joss, S. (2017). The New Urban Agenda: Key Opportunities and Challenges for Policy and Practice, Urban Research & Practice, 10(3), pp. 367-378.
23. Hollands, R. G. (2008). Will the real smart city please stand up? Intelligent, progressive or entrepreneurial? City, 12(3), pp. 303-320.
24. Bridge, G. H. and Watson, S. (2003). City imaginaries. In G.H. Bridge and S. Watson, ed., A Companion to the City. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 7-17.
25. Watson, V. (2009). ‘The planned city sweeps the poor away…’: Urban planning and 21st century urbanisation. pp. 151-193.
26. Mohan, A. K., Parthasarathy, A., Mahajan, P., and Pellissery, S. (2020). Plurality of Voices: Emerging Pathways Towards Planning Southern Cities. Bangalore: Institute of Public Policy, National Law School of India University
27. Friedmann, J. (1993). Toward a non-Euclidian mode of planning. Journal of the American Planning Association, 59(4), pp. 482-485
28. Watson, V. (2009). ‘The planned city sweeps the poor away…’: Urban planning and 21st century urbanisation. pp. 151-193
29. Mahadevia, D., and Joshi, R. (2009). Subversive urban development in India: Implications on planning education. Ahmedabad: Centre for Urban Equity, CEPT University.
30. Bhan, G. (2016). In the public’s interest: evictions, citizenship, and inequality in contemporary Delhi.
31. Batra, L. (2009). A review of urbanisation and urban policy in post-independent India.
32. Mohan, A. K., Parthasarathy, A., Mahajan, P., and Pellissery, S. (2020). Plurality of Voices: Emerging Pathways Towards Planning Southern Cities.
33. The three cities are representative of different tiers – small, medium and large-urban centres in India. The choice is deliberate in leaving out the super-size mega-city regions (supporting population of over 10 million) while the former is where most urbanization is occurring or likely to occur.
34. Directorate of Census Operations Jharkhand, (2011). District Census Handbook Ranchi. [online]. Available at:
35. The concept of the dual city is discussed by various scholars. Richard Sennett argues that the idea of a dual city is as old as the idea of the city. See Sennett, R. (1970). The Uses of Disorder: Personal Identity and City Life. New York: Vintage Books.
36. Directorate of Census Operations Odisha, (2011). District Census Handbook Puri. [online]. Available at:
37. The Char Dham translating as the four abodes are pilgrimage sites in India. They are Badrinath, in the North, Dwarka, in the West, Puri in the East and Rameswaram in the South.
38. Mang, N.S. (2009). Toward a regenerative psychology of planning. Ph.D. Saybrook Graduate School and Research Centre.
39. Directorate of Census Operations Tamil Nadu (2011). District Census Handbook Coimbatore. [online]. Available at:
40. Kongu Nadu is a region comprising the western part of the present day province of Tamil Nadu in Southern India. It draws its origin from the term Kongu, meaning nectar or honey.
41. Eris are of two types – system and non-system eris. System eris are those which are fed by streams of rivers through a channel, while the non-system ones are stand-alone isolated tanks fed by rain. Most of the tanks in Tamil Nadu are system eris.
42. Girard, F.L. (2014). The regenerative city and wealth creation/conservation: the role of urban planning. pp. 118-140.
43. Friedmann, J. (1993). Toward a non-Euclidian mode of planning. pp. 482.

Acknowledgement: Integrated Design, Bangalore

Anjali Karol Mohan is trained as an urban and regional planner and has a PhD in Urban (e)Governance and Management. Her research and professional practice over the last twenty-seven years straddles development, institutional and policy frameworks, urban planning and management and information and communication technologies and development (ICTD). As a visiting faculty at the Centre for Public Policy at the National Law School University of India, Bangalore and the Takshashila Institutes, a public policy think tank headquartered in Bangalore India, she teaches Urban Development and Planning, Technology and Urban and Governance and Public Policy.

Mohan S. Rao, an environmental designer and landscape architect, is the principal designer of the leading multi-disciplinary consultancy practice, Integrated Design (INDE), Bangalore. He is involved in research and design programs in several countries, and done notable work in passive water management and conservation strategies in South East Asia. He is the recipient of 2010 IFLA President’s Award for the Asia Pacific Region, and the Award of Distinction in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme for his work in Hampi.

Rahul Paul, a graduate from Architectural Association, London, MA (Landscape Urbanism), is a senior associate with Integrated Design (INDE), Bangalore. His focus lies in developing design and research narratives that intersect the domains of environmental and social ecology. Rahul has participated in several international and national design workshops and has presented research papers and articles at national and international conferences. He also works in editorial capacity for journals on issues of landscape urbanism, infrastructure urbanism and urban planning.


Volume 4, no. 1 Spring 2021