Slums in India |

Slums in India


∙ The subject of slums has found a prominent place in the debates and discussions of the Indian Parliament throughout history.

Slums in India

∙ Nationwide Data: Slums are found in 65 percent of the Indian towns. One in every six urban Indians lives in slums.

∙ Andhra Pradesh tops the list, with 36.1% of its urban population living in slums. Other states are: Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana.

ο Indian slum households without any proper drainage system, out of them 44% have open drains and close to 19% of the households are without any drainage connection.

∙ Future Projection: In the next 10 years, 50 percent of India will reside in urban areas, up from the current 28%.

∙ With this increase in urban population, slums will grow exponentially.

Evolution of Government Policies of Slums

∙ Between the 1950s and 1960s, the slums were a result of partition and the inflow of a huge population.

∙ This resulted in people living in deteriorating buildings without basic civic amenities.

∙ Slums were considered an epidemic that needed to be eradicated.

∙ This changed with the introduction of the Slum Areas Act of 1956.

∙ Between the early 1970s and mid-1980s, the narrative around slums shifted- from being considered a space that needed eradication, it was looked at as a necessary evil that had to be developed.

∙ Town planning emerged as a governance tool, pushing slums to the peripheries. The narrative evolved to prioritise providing basic amenities to slums instead of destroying them.

ο Between the mid-1980s and late 1990s.

∙ From being considered liabilities, funding to cities and urban spaces including the slums, were now looked at as assets and investments for the economic growth of the State.

∙ The first two National Housing Policies were introduced during this period.

∙ Further, in 1996 the National Slum Development Programme was launched bringing back targeted funding from the union government towards slum redevelopment.

Reasons for the Growth of Slums in India

∙ Rural-to-Urban Migration: One of the primary drivers of slum growth in India is the significant influx of people from rural areas to urban centers in search of better economic opportunities.

∙ Lack of Affordable Housing: Many urban areas in India face a shortage of affordable housing. This leads people to settle in informal settlements due to the absence of alternatives.

∙ Inadequate Urban Planning: Cities may fail to accommodate the needs of their expanding populations, leading to the development of informal settlements.

∙ Poverty and Unemployment: Poverty and unemployment in both urban and rural areas push people toward informal settlements.

∙ Inadequate Government Policies: Inconsistent or ineffective government policies and programs to address urban poverty and slum development can exacerbate the problem.

The Importance of Slum Development in India

∙ Poverty Alleviation: Slums are often home to some of the most economically disadvantaged populations. By providing better living conditions, access to basic services, and economic opportunities, slum development can contribute to poverty reduction and improved living standards.

∙ Social Equity and Inclusion: It ensures that marginalized and vulnerable populations have access to decent housing, clean water, sanitation, education, and healthcare, reducing social disparities.

∙ Health and Well-being: Access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, and healthcare services can reduce the spread of diseases and enhance the overall well-being of slum residents.

∙ Education Opportunities: This allows children in slum areas to receive quality education, breaking the cycle of poverty and providing a brighter future.

∙ Economic Empowerment: Slum development can empower residents economically by providing access to stable housing, infrastructure, and job opportunities. This, in turn, leads to increased income and better living standards.

∙ Urban Development: Addressing slum development is integral to the broader urban development of Indian cities.

∙ Crime Reduction: Improved living conditions and economic opportunities can lead to reduced crime and violence in slum areas, enhancing the safety and security of residents.

∙ Sustainability: It involves not only providing housing and infrastructure but also creating economic opportunities and social services that support lasting development.

Major Challenges to Slum Development in India?

∙ Overpopulation: Slums are often densely populated, leading to overcrowding and inadequate living space. This overpopulation can strain already limited resources and infrastructure.

∙ Resettlement Challenges: Relocating slum dwellers to improve living conditions can be challenging, as it requires finding suitable land, addressing resistance from the affected communities, and ensuring that resettlement sites have adequate infrastructure.

∙ Political and Bureaucratic Hurdles: Slum development often involves navigating complex bureaucratic processes and overcoming political challenges, which can slow down progress and result in corruption.

∙ Lack of Community Participation: Successful slum development often requires the community’s active participation in governance and planning.


∙ Slum development in India is crucial for poverty reduction, equity promotion, improved health, education, and sustainable urban growth.

∙ Grassroot development groups play a key role in these initiatives, but success demands a comprehensive approach supported by the government.

∙ This endeavor is vital for enhancing human well-being, particularly for impoverished slum dwellers.∙ This requires collaborative efforts in creating affordable housing, providing basic services, improving infrastructure, and promoting livelihood opportunities for slum dwellers, while preserving the social and economic fabric of these communities.

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