Isolation of Slum Population

What are the first stereotypical thoughts that comes in your mind when you encounter the word “slum” or when referred to slum population? You may hear people referring to the following terms- illiterates, filthy and scattered houses, unhygienic people and the greatest of all being the place where the criminals are born. It’s quite ironical to think that it is the from this section of the population that you are able to lead a luxurious and a comfortable life. 

A recent estimate of numbers of slum dwellers indicates that, globally, 32 per cent of urban residents live in slums (compared with about 20 per cent in informal settlements, which are the most visible slums).

Slum can be defined as that residential where dwellings are unfit for human habitation by reasons of dilapidation, overcrowding, lack of ventilation or sanitation facility and having drinking water facilities in unhygienic conditions.

These conditions also include a lack of housing durability and a lack of security of tenure. urban areas only account for three percent of the earth’s land. Over 90 percent of urban growth is occurring in developing nations. The increase of people living in cities can predictably rise to 60 percent in 2030 and to 66 percent by 2050.

There are approximately 200,000 slums throughout the world with Mexico City being home to the largest slum in the world. The Neza-chalco-Itza province began developing in the early 1900s and today houses roughly four million people. A younger slum in Karachi, Pakistan is only ten years old and houses 1.5 million citizens over 22 square miles. The number of people living in slums continues to grow.

It is safe to mention that slum population is considered equally inferior as any other backward section of the society and are vented out the same treatment. Let’s take a case study to understand the atmosphere of a slum.  

Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi which is located in the heart of India- Mumbai is considered to be home to more than million people out of which majority are second generation residents whose parents moved in years ago. It accommodates all kind of migrants coming from different areas.

Mumbai is considered as a city of dreams and every year, thousands of people from both rural and urban area migrate to this place in search of better employment opportunities and live a life they have dreamt of but due to high cost of living and high rent, the slum accommodates people who are not well off to afford it.

Rents here can be as low as 185 rupees per month. As Dharavi is located between Mumbai’s two main suburban rail lines, most people find it convenient for work. Even in the smallest of rooms, there is usually a cooking gas stove and continuous electricity. Many residents have a small colour television with a cable connection that ensures they can catch up with their favorite soaps for entertainment. Basically, people manage to live happily with basic standard of living.

If we look at their source of income, we see an active informal economy running in the streets of the slum. The slum is well known for leather, textile and pottery products. Though the families are able to sustain themselves, but it is no longer enough to run parallel to the rapid increase in prices in fast growing economy of the nation. In terms of literacy rate, about 70% of the slum population is illiterate. Children have to face societal constraints during admission process.

  The slum has to face a lot of problem out of which the major one is to deal with the pollution and untreated sewage system. Children are forced to play around sewage waste exposing them to various health problems. Common public toilets cause various health issues to the people and especially to the women.

The filthy conditions described above can be found in almost any place you visit to. People try hard to sustain themselves in this world and meet the never-ending price rise of the economy.  Slums and urban poverty are not just a manifestation of a population explosion and demographic change or a consequence of globalization for that matter but can be seen as the result of a failure of housing policies, laws and delivery systems, as well as of national and urban policies.

The most important factor that limits progress in improving housing and living conditions of low-income groups in informal settlements and slums is the lack of genuine political will to address the issue in a fundamental and large-scale manner. There is no doubt that the political will to achieve long lasting and structured interventions constitutes the key to success, particularly when accompanied by local ownership and leadership, and the mobilization of the potential and capacity. The problems of inadequately serviced and overcrowded urban housing have been recognized as undesirable aspects of urban living.

Current slum policies primarily focus on housing, relocation or in-situ development of multi-storey complexes. But in doing so, they miss out on the brewing socio-economic distress in slums. Upgrading the slums is not merely shifting the slum dwellers into multistoried houses, it needs much more concerted efforts to be worked upon both with body and the soul.

he Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) ‘Housing for all’ programme was launched by then Prime Minister of India in June 2015. As the name suggests, the programme envisages to provide affordable housing for the poor in urban areas. It falls under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and is chaired by Mr. Venkaiah Naidu. PMAY proposes to build 2 crore houses for the urban poor and economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society. The programme, though very optimistic on paper, is merely a redecoration and change in the title of an already existing programme, Rajiv Awas Yojana (2009), which was launched by the previous government (United Progressive Alliance or UPA), and was also a centrally proposed scheme set up to make India ‘Slum-free’ by 2022.

Prior to these programmes, the UPA government had also announced the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in 2005 as a mission to improve infrastructure and standard of life in cities. Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) and Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) were two programmes under JNNURM. Apart from this, government still have a long way to go in order to make slum population as equally as a part of the society as others in terms of occupation, social status and recognition in the society.

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2 years ago

Fantastic observations

Shubhra Chaturvedi
Shubhra Chaturvedi
2 years ago

Well written, keep it up

2 years ago

Well written. Hope you can include their voices too. It is about them afterall.

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