..Though ‘slums are the places where dwellings are unfit for human habitation’ the Government of India recognises..
Recently, The Hindu had a report on India’s slum population quoting the latest Census of India figures.
Naturally, it said the slum population in India had gone up to 65 million from 52 million counted by the last Census in 2001.
Focus of the story was the slum population had a better child sex ratio of 922 girls for every 1000 boys than the urban India average of 905. It also said the average family size of 4.7 in slums was in line with the average urban family size in India.
Signs of progress! Okay, maybe, when we see the figures as pure population statistics.
But this huge growth in slum population over the decade, almost 25 per cent, belies it and cautions us to see the figures more as the signs of unplanned rapid urbanization.
‘Slums are residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation’, the report says quoting the Census of India. Now the direct corollary to this definition is the slums must not exist in a civilized world of the socialist, secular and democratic Republic that India is.
There must be efforts on war scale to undo the concept of slums! Daydreaming, isn’t it?
Okay, it cannot happen in one go and for a country like India with limited resources, it can only come in phased manner with sincere efforts spread over a period of time.
Sincere efforts, floating promises and a multiplying slum population with every count!
The government that says ‘slums are unfit for human habitation’ readily categorises slums as ‘notified’, ‘recognised’ and ‘identified’ the report says quoting the Census of India categorisation.
‘Notified’ and ‘recognised’ slums, that are unfit for human habitation according to the Census of India definition, are accorded legal status, and ‘enjoy’ some civic amenities.
‘Identified’ slums, ‘unfit as well for human habitation’ are ‘kept’ devoid of any legal sanctity though they too are recognised ‘officially’ in some form as the precondition to be categorised as an ‘identified’ slum is it has to have ‘at least 60-70 tenements with at least 300 people’ as the report says. These ‘identified slums’ are not extended ‘legal protection and municipal services’.
The catch is, according to The Hindu report based on the Census of India 2011, the largest chunk of slum population dwells in the dwellings of the ‘identified’ slums that are lowest in the ‘hierarchy’ of slums in India (where every slum is defined as ‘unfit for human habitation’).
Now, this ‘largest chunk’, one million of which are in Delhi, India’s national capital, claimed to be world-class city, cannot even ask the Government of India to provide them with that elusive sewage-line or water pipeline or electricity connections.
Human misery notified, recognised, identified the Government of India way – strangely familiar – predictably strange – in the socialist, secular and democratic Republic India that is busy discussing ‘requirement of toilets and temples in India’ these days!
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/