The ongoing Integrated Cooum River Eco-Restoration Project aims to improve the state of the polluted river, and improve the situation and alleviate the risk of surrounding residents. Yet, it is being criticised for the large amounts of distant resettlement it has caused, and for targeting the urban poor. Much unclarities exist within the public project descriptions, and press articles writing about it. The unclarities include what the components of the projects are, what are their benefits, how are they going to be applied, who is included in the process, which groups would be the disadvantaged, and why would such groups sacrifice most for the described public interest. The unclarities also extend on the relations between water bodies and encroachments in Chennai. An issue that is especially relevant after the severe flood of 2015, announcements and rulings were released for the removal of water bodies’ encroachments. Through a study of one of the project’s proposed park areas, the thesis examines the effect of the landuse changes on the capabilities of land resources for the resettled residents, the surrounding residents, the river, and public interest as described in the project. The analysis follows a political ecology entitlements approach that disaggregates rights and entitlements of land resources. Moreover, it analyses agency to socio-ecological structures and how it affects choices made within the project to mostly affect the land capabilities for the urban poor. The study compares with literature on dispossession of the urban poor in several Indian cities, based on development, or disaster induced displacement. The case study methodology serves to generate useful insights as a part of the existing academic literature and policy analysis of similar processes in other Indian cities. The study uses interviews with affected residents and users, government officials, academics, activists, and experts. Additionally, it includes an analysis on project reports, and other relevant reports and laws. The project is not completed, which limits the findings that can be concluded. However, the study shows how certain capabilities, related to river services and locational proximity are prioterized by groups and have stronger links to landuse change decisions. It also examines how different use designations lead to different levels of control over land rights. Ans how the bias against the urban poor results from the unclarity around the river / encroachment dialectics and other differences in the agency to changing socio-ecological relations. Another discussed issue is how the parameters for slum definition and rehabilitation action are neither sufficient, nor are cases of slums clear.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Riverfront, Displacement, Water, Land Rights, Encroachment
Thesis Advisor Eerd, M. (Maartje) van, Banerjee, B. (Banashree)
Persistent URL
Note UMD 15
AIAhwal, Ahmed Tarek. (2019, September). The effect of landuse change in urban riverfront eco-restoration projects on land drawn capabilities. Case study of the Cooum, Chennai, India. Retrieved from