Slums in India

(Practice Questions – 

1. Discuss the challenges faced by the population living in slums in India. What are the recent steps taken by the government in this regard? – 150 words

2. Providing affordable housing to the people living in slums has been a challenge for successive governments. In this context, discuss the details of the ‘Housing for All’ scheme launched by the government of India – 150 words

3. Discuss the primary reasons for creation of slums in India. What administrative and policy steps need to be taken to tackle this problem? – 250 words).

 

Challenges Faced by Slum Dwellers:

The number of people living in slums in India has grown up rapidly in recent past. Besides health, education and wages, housing to the urban poor is a big challenge and cause of concern for the governments. The primary challenges faced by the people living in slums are – poor living conditions, very less or no education, extremely poor hygiene conditions, substandard health care services, lack of access to formal financial system, lack of economic opportunities/employment and the resultant extremely low status. Moreover, population from rural/semi-urban areas which migrates to the cities in search of better opportunities is at high risk of getting caught into a vicious cycle of debt and socio-economic stagnation. 

Source: YOJANA

 

Recent steps taken by the government/Details of ‘Housing for all’ scheme:

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) ‘Housing for all’ programme was launched by the Government of India in June 2015. The programme envisages to provide affordable housing for the poor in urban areas. It falls under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. PMAY proposes to build 2 crore houses for the urban poor and economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society.

The PMAY aims to provide assistance to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and other implementing agencies through States/UTs for:

  1. In-situ Rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers using land as a resource through private participation
  2. Credit Linked Subsidy
  3. Affordable Housing in Partnership
  4. Subsidy for Survey-led individual house construction/enhancement

In-situ Rehabilitation through private participation – Land is used as a resource with private participation whereby private developers provide housing along with basic civic infrastructure to the  eligible slum dwellers and in return they are given a “free sale component” which can be sold to the open market by the developers.

Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme – Under this scheme people falling under the Economically Weaker section (EWS) and Low Income Group (LIG) are eligible to seek loans from Banks and Housing Finance Companies with interest subsidy at the rate of 6.5 % for a tenure of 15 years. Manual Scavengers, Women (with overriding preference to widows), persons belonging to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes, Minorities, Persons with disabilities and Transgender are given preference under this scheme.

Affordable Housing in Partnership – PMAY seeks to provide financial assistance to Economically Weaker Section and Lower income groups houses being built with different partnerships by States/UTs/Cities. Central assistance is pegged at INR 1.5 lakh per EWS house.

Beneficiary-led individual house construction – PMAY seeks to provide  assistance to EWS for the construction of a new house or for enhancement of an existing house. This component applies only to individuals and families who do not fall in any of the other components or redevelopment plans under the mission. Individuals under this component are eligible for  a sanction of INR 1.5 lakh over 3-4 installments from the Central Government through the respective State Governments in order to construct or enhance the existing houses. The progress of these houses are to be tracked regularly by the authorities with the use of geo-tagged photographs.

Source: Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group

 

Primary reasons for creation of slums in India:

The primary reasons of creation of slums in India are: Adverse change in agricultural scenario, low employment prospects in rural areas as compared to bigger opportunities in cities, preference for labour market than agriculture and lack of basic facilities like education, quality healthcare etc. in rural and semi-urban areas. 

 

Steps Ahead:

Getting the numbers right –  India must get its numbers right as there are no concrete figures on these temporary and semi-permanent settlements. Slums have a fluid definition and this leads to exclusion of people. The 2011 Census estimated 65 million people in slums, a marked shortfall from the UN-HABITAT’s 2014 estimation of 104 million.

Focusing on the socio-economic stress – Current slum policies miss out on the brewing socio-economic distress in slums. Over 70% of families in slums live in debt. The difference between their monthly earnings and expenses is less than Rs. 1,000 leaving them vulnerable in case of educational, vocational, social or health emergencies. Moreover, with no access to formal financial systems, any borrowing comes from private money lenders at high interest rates. For many, even water and electricity are disproportionately more expensive as they are forced to rely on the grey market rather than on formal, subsidised channels.

Improved technical education to increase incomes – Due to the rapidly changing profile of entry level jobs, undergraduate or technical certificates can only provide low-paying jobs. In such a scenario, it is difficult for a person to move out of slums as there is no substantial increase in his/her income levels despite having a technical education and thus a family is caught into the ‘slum-cycle’. According to a study by Duke University, U.S., seven out of 10 households have stayed in slums for at least four generations. These families earned only marginally more than “newer” migrants. When families did move out of their slums, it was towards “cheaper,” worse-off slums. This is in contrast to the rapid upward mobility among other urban sections. Thus there is a case for substantial improvement in the levels of primary and technical education.

Involvement of slum-dwellers in policy decisions – Every decision needs to be shared with slum dwellers and ensuring their consent will be the key of success. the government should initiate the slum up-gradation under the practical leadership of municipality (local government) so that trust can be build up with the slum dwellers and address the functional issues of slum dwellers. NGOs can play a substantive role in this regard.

Need for a dynamic slum policy – A case can be made for a dynamic slum policy, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. In many established slums, political patronage has produced concrete houses, title deeds, piped water and regularised electricity. Here, economic opportunities and employment are key. On the other end, slums resembling tented refugee camps need housing and basic amenities.

Sources: Yojana and The Hindu.