Informal rentals provide affordable housing on the outskirts of New Delhi
The glass-clad high-rise office buildings and condominiums of Gurgaon, which symbolise wealth and power at the south of New Delhi, hide the city’s ugly underbelly. While the Census reports Gurgaon district to have 1.5 million residents, NGO Agrasar estimates that a million undocumented migrants from the poorest states in India work here in vital industrial and service sector jobs. These migrant workers live in crowded accommodation in underserviced areas of the city, invisible and “between the cracks” in glitzy Gurgaon.
These glaring inequalities exist despite the availability of capital that could have fixed the city’s growing pains. In fact, profit from private sector real estate development spurred Gurgaon’s growth, and the city was shaped by what anthropologist Shubhra Gururani calls “flexible planning” that “accommodated the desires of the wealthy and political elites.”
While private developers acquired and developed agricultural lands into A-grade commercial space and high-end residences, the housing needs of the city’s working class were ignored by the formal sector entirely. Private landlords in Gurgaon’s urban villages and unauthorized colonies have filled this vital gap by building and renting tenements and huts as low-income housing for migrant workers.
Thanks to Mukta Naik.