Contested Formality and Incipient Informality in Delhi´s new Suburban Space - A Case Study in Savda Ghevra Resettlement Colony
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Forced evictions and resettlement of central slums have become a common and inevitable part of the development of cities in the global South. This is often related to the beautification processes of the cities, and most often in relation to large sports events such as the Olympic Games or the World Cup. It is widely known that resettlement often leads to the breakage of livelihoods for the actors involved and can put families at the risk of destitution (Payne, 2002). This research investigates what has happened in a resettlement site in Delhi, 6 years after the eviction of central slum settlements in relation to the Commonwealth Games of 2010. In the resettlement area in focus, there are families residing to date and the area appears to have become a new central space on the fringes of the city. Questions explored in the research concern how the inhabitants coped with the stress of resettlement and what strategies the households used in order to make the transition into this remote and secluded location in the city. The findings are analysed in the light of informality, where how the actors employed means of informal relations and transactions becomes the focal point. The research considers three types of informal relations; a creative way of making a living, a response to the necessity of supplying the needs of the people and as an interaction between different actors in forms of transactions and relationships for peoples ́ or households ́ personal gain. The major finding is that the resettlement site is not a residential area for the poorer citizens, rather an area where the people with a large asset base and capital stock from the previous settlement, are the ones who cope and survive best in these situations. Also the area has become an attractive place for households from other parts of the city and the country, where investment in the family´s tenure security and pursuing business opportunities are the major pull factors. This results in the poorer inhabitants selling their allocated property and leaving the settlement. The area is left bursting with business activities and economic transactions. In essence, the ones with a strong capital base are able to stay and survive in the settlement, but the weaker actors have had to leave. The research concludes that people take measures to build their own resilience and they employ informal ways of managing their lives in situations of stress. However the informal activities occur also in spite of a governmental presence in the area, and can be seen as people not minding the “boxes” of legality and illegality, rather avoiding or ignoring regulations, laws or legal measures because the market, their needs and the households ́ gain must be met nevertheless.