[Answered]“Urban infrastructure is critical for development of the cities and surrounding areas.” In light of this discuss various reasons for growth of slum areas in India. Also discuss various issues associated with it.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Factors responsible for growth of slums in India. Various issues related to the slum.

Conclusion. Way forward.

Slums are illegal urban settlements on public land and usually grow over a period of time in a constant and irregular manner. According to the United Nations agency UN-HABITAT, a slum is a run-down area of a city characterised by substandard housing and poverty and lacking in tenure security. Slums are considered as an integral part of urbanisation and as a manifestation of the overall socioeconomic policies and planning in the urban sector. They have emerged out of the urban development process and are unplanned, unintended settlements ignored in the whole process of urban development.

Factors responsible for growth of slums in India:

  1. Rural to Urban Migration: Rural to urban migration is one of the primary drivers in the growth of slums in Indian cities. Urban centres which are not equipped to support additional population, fail to cope up with high influx of people which ultimately causes several problems such as housing shortages, unemployment, and development of slums.
  2. Limited access to financial resources: Slum dwellers typically inhabit marginal locations such as dumping grounds mainly due to the low purchasing power of slum dwellers in formal land markets when compared with high-income groups. Further, the urban poor lack access to formal financial resources to help them purchase new homes or maintain a new life in a new housing unit.
  3. Demand-supply of Housing: The gap between growing demand for affordable urban housing and insufficient supply has encouraged the formation of slums. Whenever the demand surplus is not met by formal sectors, this gap is typically filled by an informal dwelling such as a slum
  4. Poor Urban governance: A major factor for growth of slums use of rigid, often outdated urban planning regulations, which are typically bypassed by slum dwellers to meet their housing needs. Another issue is the failure of governments to incorporate slum dwellers as part of the overall planning process.This is often due to the inability of many governments to keep pace with urbanization because of ill-designed policies, lack of resources and corruption.
  5. Rising costs: Rising material costs and labor costs resulting from labor shortage is another reason for the growth of slums as it makes developers unable to deliver affordable housing to the market.
  6. Lack of political will: A lack of political will for developing slums can also be seen, as slums provide cheap and steady labour (party-workers) to political parties.

Various issues associated with slum areas:

  1. Lack of basic services/amenities: The slums are characterised by lack of access to sanitation facilities and safe water sources, absence of waste collection systems, electricity supply, drainage. These are sometimes supplemented by lack of surfaced roads and footpaths and street lighting. According to Census 2011, among the slums in India-
  • 58% have open or no drainage
  • 43% must bring water from outside their communities
  • 26% do not have access to clean drinking water
  • 34% have no latrine within premises; 19% open defecate
  1. Substandard housing: Slum areas are associated with a high number of substandard housing structures, often built with non-permanent materials unsuitable for housing and in dilapidated conditions.
  2. Overcrowding: Overcrowding is associated with a low space per person, high occupancy rates, cohabitation by different families. Many slum dwelling units are overcrowded, with a large number of people sharing a one-room unit used for cooking, sleeping and living.
  3. Unhealthy living conditions and hazardous locations: Unhealthy living conditions are the result of a lack of basic services, open sewers, lack of pathways, uncontrolled dumping of waste, polluted environments, etc. Further, slums come up in hazardous locations such as in proximity to industrial plants with toxic emissions or waste disposal sites.
  4. Poverty: Low income and poverty is both cause and to large extent consequence of slum conditions.Slum conditions create barriers to human and social development. Low income characteristically means poor nutrition, elementary or no education, little or no medical care which undermines human capital development and slum dwellers are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.
  5. Social problems: Slums are areas of social exclusion that are often perceived to have high levels of crime. Gender discrimination and violence towards women and children, substance abuse are rampant phenomena in slum areas. Also, women and children living in slums are prone to become victims of social evils like prostitution, beggary and child trafficking.
  6. Health: Since slums are not connected to basic services such as clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, residents are at great risk of contracting water-borne and respiratory diseases. High population density, lack of proper toilets and close proximity of homes allow diseases to spread quickly. People living in slum areas are also prone to suffer from waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera, as well as from more fatal ones like cancer and HIV/AIDS.

Way Forward:

  1. The focus should not only on building houses for the slum dwellers but also promoting livelihood options and social and economic infrastructure to develop the livelihood.
  2. For effective urban planning, housing and population policies based on housing rights and the right to a clean environment must be established at all levels. These policies should be directed at inclusive cities and poverty alleviation
  3. Attention must be paid to income generation, transport and empowerment of the beneficiaries to redress possible future problems
  4. To upgrade the infrastructure and services providing water, power, and sewage connections to individual homes, the collection of solid waste, street lighting and neighbourhood security and police support.

Slums are growing and thereby denying right to live with dignity to many poor people. Poverty is the most significant reason behind the creation of slums. There is a need for future policies to support the livelihoods of the urban poor by enabling urban informal-sector activities to flourish and develop. Slum policies should be integrated within broader, people-focused urban poverty reduction policies that address the various dimensions of poverty.

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