“Despite various positive characteristics of gentrification, there are certain negative aspects of the process as well. First and foremost, it leads to an increase in the population, additionally, the incoming population may be more affluent and put more pressure on the existing resources. At times, it is also noticed that the new population coming from less developed cities are not wealthy enough to support themselves and need support from the government to sustain their lives in the developed cities”, says Aayush Chaudhary, Principal Architect, ACad Studio
At present, the world is experiencing an unprecedented rate of urbanization and a similar trend can be witnessed in our country as well. Due to an increase in urbanization, Gentrification in India has occupied an indispensable part of development of the cities. Though primarily believed to be a process of developing cities, gentrification has its own share of negative aspects that overpower the positive side of it.
Some of the positive aspects of gentrification include more development and economic growth. It also creates new opportunities for the people during and post the development has been made. Besides, the practice also increases the number of schools, hospitals, creates more townships and jobs.
However, despite various positive characteristics of gentrification, there are certain negative aspects of the process as well. First and foremost, it leads to an increase in the population, additionally, the incoming population may be more affluent and put more pressure on the existing resources. At times, it is also noticed that the new population coming from less developed cities are not wealthy enough to support themselves and need support from the government to sustain their lives in the developed cities. Either way the process of gentrification adds pressure to the existing resources, thereby leading to overutilization of the resources. The process also pushes the original residents to leave the neighbourhood due to increase in property rent, prices, coercion or buyouts. Hence, it won’t be incorrect to say that this process should be carefully planned through community input and involvement which can increase the social, economic, racial and ethnic integration.
The Story of Gurugram
Gurugram is one of the products of Gentrification. The old Gurugram was renovated and new Gurugram was improved/developed to enhance the standards of living of the dwellers. A major part of the city was newly developed hence, to support the progress, the older section of the city was also renovated. This modern city witnessed rapid increase in population and huge pressure on existing resources like land, water, transport etc. Due to this, the entire city was then remodeled in terms of connectivity to provide a better living.
The negative impact of Gentrification
Gentrification of a place leads to complications like forced displacement, promotes discriminatory behaviour by people who are more powerful and financially stable. Also, the process fails to focus on low-income individuals. This has been observed in various parts of the world. Due to gentrification, the local residents of a place do not remain in power, or they sometimes exploit the situation and take advantage of it by not agreeing to renovate their place and compelling the developers to pay them extra for the same. This hinders the future development that is planned to take place. For example, selling a land at overprice to the developer. However, this has another side to it as well where the developer buys the initial piece of land at a much cheaper rate and creates large complexes, housing societies, commercial spaces etc. By building such an infrastructure, the developer earns a massive amount of profits from it. Due to this trend the rents of the nearby neighbourhood are elevated as the land which was once cheaper, isolated and unproductive is more valuable due to the new development that has taken place over it. Therefore, we can say that this entire phenomenon forces out the original resident of the place, displacing them thereby leading to a worse state of affairs. As the property prices rise, new opportunity arises for the incoming citizens, who are much wealthier than the older ones and thus they set up their business or search for employment in the newly developed areas.
The cycle of the wealthier segment
As the prices of the real estate continue to increase the problem also increases. It becomes even more profitable to convert the smaller buildings/apartments/residential area into non-residential/commercial areas as currently witnessed in Gurugram. Investors also earn more money from selling the buildings and thus there is no incentive for anyone to maintain them. This cycle of rising building prices continues until only the large and well financed investors are able to endure. Since the owner of small buildings projects huge profits from selling the buildings to an investor who can construct high rise structures on that land, the landlords sometimes use immoral means to intentionally displace the low-income residents.
Challenges of residential areas leading to social disparity
Gentrification also progresses into conversion of residential pockets into non-residential areas due to huge demands. This further accelerates problems for existing houses in the neighborhood as they are not prepared for added pressure of traffic and commercial activities involving large numbers of people visiting the newly developed commercial complexes which also affects the security of the residents. Even when the living spaces in a gentrifying area remain residential, the developers attract new residents with higher incomes because of the service and amenities that improve in conjunction with increased cost of living and property values. The influx of these new and more influential residents puts pressure on the housing market that produce inflated rents and prices which lead to displacement of low income residents. Also, if the original residents somehow continue to stay in the neighbourhood they may face exclusion from the newly planned spaces and the new residents.
Gentrification always creates a gap in the society, which might lead to increased hostility in the society. The process has its advantages and disadvantages. But when this process is in the initial stage, the developers must establish a communication with the original residents and make them part of the development which will also increase their standards of living rather than pushing them aside. If carried in a planned and inclusive way, the process can do more good than harm.