Even as the glitz quotient goes up in the cities, with the number of shopping malls and multiplexes rapidly increasing, there is a less glamorous, but faster, growth of the urban slums. Today, one in every seven city dwellers lives in a slum. While the number of slum dwellers has been growing 22% faster than that of the urban population, the number of slums has been shrinking. More and more people are living in fewer, albeit larger and better serviced slums.
About 14% of the urban population lives in slums and their numbers are growing faster than those of entire cities. According to estimates, while the urban population is growing at an average 2.7%, the number of slum dwellers has been rising at 3.3% with Urban Sprawl.
The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) estimates that the slum dwellers’ tally has increased over the last ten years. In 1993, 60 lakh urban households lived in slums. By ’02, when the last survey was conducted, the number had increased to 80 lakh households. Take the average size of a household at five, and you’ve got 4 crores of the 28.5-crore people in urban areas, living in pitiable conditions. And if you estimate that even half the population living in slums will vote, its easy to understand why they’re such a valuable asset for politicians.
Slum dwellers can’t really complain that politicians remember them only on the eve of polls. Their votes have been rewarded with improved facilities in terms of drinking water, electricity, toilets and roads. The results of the latest NSSO survey conducted during July-December ’02, when compared with the January-June 1993 survey, show that state governments and the urban authorities under them have not only ensured that a large number of slums are notified, but have also played a significant role in ensuring that basic facilities improve.
In 1993, only about 75% of the slums could claim that their settlements was electrified, even though it may have only been street lighting. The latest survey places that number at 92%, and of this, 69% has electricity for both household use as well as street lighting, while another 18% has it for household use alone. ‘India Shining’, anyone?
Similarly, access to toilets has increased to 67% in ’02, from 46% in 1993. There isn’t any dramatic improvement in the garbage disposal since the number of slums without disposal mechanisms is down to 31% from 35%. However, the availability of water through taps has gone up.
Even as the number of urban slums declined by 8% between the two surveys, to 51,688 in ’02, from 56,311 in 1993, the number of notified slums increased 29% to 26,154 from 20,272, during the same period. That is, of the number of urban slums, including those recognised by municipalities, corporations, local bodies or development authorities, rose to 50.6% in ’02, from 36% in 1993. During this period, number of slum households doubled to 52 lakh from 26.4 lakh, making the slums that have access to better facilities more densely populated.
Source: The Economic Times
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- Housing for urban poor (slideshare.net)
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- One billion slum dwellers (boston.com)