Sustainable urban development in tightly constrained areas: A case study of Darjeeling, India

Ian C. Mell, John Sturzaker

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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The quantity of writing on sustainable urban development continues to expand. Much of this writing, whether using a theoretical or empirical focus (or both), takes a strongly normative tone, exhorting actors in locations across the globe to make greater efforts to move development trends in more sustainable directions. This normative work is, of course, of vital importance, but in this paper, we argue for more attention to the context within which development takes place, particularly where that context imposes severe, perhaps crippling, constraints on opportunities for path-breaking actions. To explore this issue, we introduce the case study of the Indian hill station town of Darjeeling. We assess the sustainability issues faced by the town (including rapid population growth, limited availability of land, dynamic development arena) and analyse the ongoing attempts by local governmental and non-governmental actors to deal with those issues, within constraints of physical location and an intensely contested politico-governance framework that we suggest are examples of intense contextual constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-88
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Urban Sustainable Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • development
  • environmental constraints
  • governance
  • India
  • infrastructure
  • sustainability
  • urban planning


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