Ms. Ishita Chatterjee1
1University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Situated at the periphery of two administrative boundaries – Delhi and Haryana, lies Khori gaon, an informal settlement, in the foothills of the Aravalli range. The ecologically sensitive hills have gone through a series of transformation due to the shifts in land ownership, forceful land acquisition and changing land use. Complicating this is the issue of cartographic uncertainty related to the political border and the ecological edge. While the ambiguity over land ownership and boundary delineation has been key factors in the competing discourses, the question of the aesthetic plays an even bigger role. The presence of Khori gaon has raised questions about environmental degradation, illegal construction, squatting allegations and the residents have been fighting the looming threat of eviction since 2012. Though its immediate neighbours, whose occupancy is on similar grounds have different narratives attached to their presence. The unauthorised colony, while being interrogated based on illegality and ecological deterioration have been spared from squatting allegations. And the high-end luxury hotel, commercial complex and middle-class residential towers are not under the radar. The future of the settlement is caught between the multiple and competing narratives, which have developed within the shifting cartographies of power and the differing imaginations of the city.
Ishita Chatterjee is an architect who has worked in India and China before joining academia. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD along with teaching at the University of Melbourne. While her dissertation focuses on informal urbanism, her other research interests are design studio pedagogy and the role of urban data in creating and addressing inequality.