Delhi: Slum shame

The city’ urban shelter agency DUSIB’s report on how to make the city slum-free is a challenge for any government, especially one elected on a pro-poor agenda.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | New Delhi | Updated: April 20, 2015 10:40 am
Delhi slums, slums delhi, delhi slum houses, slum houses delhi, urban slums, AAp, Delhi government, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board,  DUSIB, Delhi news, india news, nation news An MCD public toilet in the slums of Tigri Camp in Deoli. These are rarely cleaned and residents, especially women, fear going in. (Source: IE photo by Ravi Kanojia)

Delhi’s slums house people whose work makes the lives of its better-off citizens easier but they themselves offer the worst of living conditions. Lakhs of people are denied the basic need for a toilet, breeding indignity and infections. The city’ urban shelter agency DUSIB’s report on how to make the city slum-free is a challenge for any government, especially one elected on a pro-poor agenda. The Indian Express flushes out a tough to-do list

With the Aam Aadmi Party government firmly in place to rule Delhi for the next five years, Delhi’s slum-dwellers may have a legitimate concern of fading into the background as the election season is over and a new one is far away. However, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in the Assembly last month that his government has no problem with being labelled the “government of the poor”. So if his administration is looking to cement its pro-poor credentials, it can have a good look at a recent report by one of Delhi’s top housing agencies for leads on what to do for slums.

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The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) has submitted a voluminous slum-free city action plan (SFCAP) to Delhi government for approval. While the board has proposed various measures to rehabilitate Delhi’s slum-dwellers, one of the main objectives is improve sanitation facilities available to the slum population, apart from freeing up nearly 200 hectares of land. With over 22 per cent of the population in Delhi’s slums without access to a toilet, it is critical that the administration acts swiftly on the proposed plan, if found feasible.

The DUSIB plan will take at least six years to be implemented, subject to being approved by the Delhi government and subsequently by the Union Ministry of Urban Development. The data that the board collected in order to prepare a housing strategy for the slums, however, reveals the grim reality of inadequate sanitation. Poor sanitation, in addition to depriving slum-dwellers of their dignity, also poses the perennial risk of exposing the residents to infections and diseases.

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The SFCAP shows that 56,980 households in the city’s slums still defecate in the open. The numbers, apart from being the “ugliest” situation that bring “shame” to the country’s capital, as stated in the SFCAP, also throw up a formidable challenge before its administration.

According to the data mentioned in the SFCAP finalised by the DUSIB in February, 22.30 per cent of the 2,55,435 households living in 589 surveyed jhuggi-jhopri (JJ) clusters in Delhi defecate in the open. “Sufficient arrangement needs to be carried out for totally liquidating such type of practice,” the SFCAP states. The data cited in the plan is based on the socio-economic survey of 2012. It showed that 16 per cent of the population living in slums has a toilet within their residential premises. The figures also indicate that 6.73 per cent of households have a shared toilet while 55 per cent have a community toilet.

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The highest number of households defecating in the open were found in South Delhi that accounts for 142 of the 589 surveyed clusters in the city, the highest in the nine districts of the city. Of the total surveyed households in the slums, 42.19 per cent had a bathroom on their residential premises, 21.63 per cent had it outside their premises. Just over 6.5 per cent had a community toilets while 29.62 per cent had none at all. About 21,778 households without a toilet in the South district again paint a dismal picture. The Northwest district too has 17,631 households without their own toilets.

While the SFCAP deals with the all-round problems that the administration will have to tackle while making the city slum-free, it enlists a number of improvement and curative strategies to better the infrastructure and facilities available to slum dwellers. These include the existing physical infrastructure within and in the vicinity of slums and proposed relocation areas including connectivity infrastructure like road network, other transport network, water supply, sewerage, drainage, electricity and communication networks, solid waste management facilities and other physical infrastructure facilities. “Social infrastructure facilities (community toilets/baths, informal sector markets, livelihood centre, pre-schools, child care centre, schools, health centres, health, banking, community halls etc.)” also form a part of DUSIB’s curative strategy.

In the course of making the SFCAP, DUSIB also gathered information based on various parameters that compose the slum population of Delhi. The data, based on which the board has created its ambitious SFCAP, stated that 65 per cent of the population in slums received tap water supplied by the Delhi Jal Board, 61 per cent used gas as cooking fuel and 96.31 per cent have electric supply in their homes. The plan also stated that “the slum dwellers in Delhi live in comparatively better ‘houses’. About 91.25 per cent live in housing which has pucca or semi-pucca structure”.

The board has prepared a housing strategy that will accommodate all slum dwellers in Delhi and create an extra EWS (economically weaker sections) housing stock estimated to be about 1,47,357 flats. The plan, according to DUSIB, will free up 197.23 hectares (about 500 acres) of land encroached upon by slums that is likely to fetch a price of Rs 14,526 crore. Its report states: “It is proposed to build a total of approximately 3.6 lakh dwelling units during the five years of implementation of RAY (centrally-funded Rajiv Awas Yojana) in Delhi. The total projected cost for housing is Rs 37,235 crore which is calculated without adding any price escalation. During the first year, it is proposed to build 23,755 dwelling units at an estimated cost of Rs 2,494 crore.”

The SFCAP survey agencies took into account the socio-economic survey from 2010-2013. Meetings with communities were held between January 2013 and September 2014. The agencies were asked to survey 622 slums, however, owing to resistance from locals; 33 clusters could not be surveyed. The SFCAP states: “There are 675 JJ clusters, with slum cover of about 675.88 hectares of land owned by the Delhi government, and state and central government bodies.These slums have been formed after 1978.”

The data, however, pertains to 589 surveyed JJ clusters spread across Delhi. A religious break-up of the population living in the surveyed slums shows that 80.35 per cent of the population is Hindu while 18.18 per cent is Muslim. The SFCAP reads: “The religion-wise figure reveals that most of the Muslim population resides in Northwest and Northeast district of Delhi, where 45,420 and 41,118 people are residing respectively.” The highest number of Christians are found in the Southwest and that of Sikhs is found in the Northwest. The data also shows that 123 Jains, 224 Buddhists, 185 Parsis and 6,799 persons belonging to other religions live in the slums of Delhi.

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  1. H
    Hemant Kumar
    Mar 31, 2016 at 8:46 am
    There are so many people who have there own house and even than they are making jhuggies and using as a shoplt;br/gt;And they give their house on rent lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;It's a big problem and if didn't solve early it'll increase and create a huge problem.
    Reply
    1. K
      Kaliyug
      Apr 20, 2015 at 11:26 pm
      Rich industrial houses should get handsome tax write-offs to build and maintain toilets all over India. Rich Temples and other religious houses should be made to build and maintain clean and functional toilets for everyone. Like the Venkateshawara temple in Tirupati should use all the excess wealth in helping the poorer section of society get housing, toilets, schools and hospitals, instead of giving it to rogue politicians and their relatives for overseas indulgences.
      Reply
      1. K
        Kaliyug
        Apr 20, 2015 at 7:05 pm
        Slums are vote banks for the opposition, the people are not complaining for clean toilets, in the past 70 years of independence India never improved the lives of these folks. The people living in slums breed like their mosquitoes, they want the government to solve their problems, the dirty politician promises a lot and then gives them liquor and money and wins their vote. This vicious cycle of corruption, threat, over potion and lack of pride will continue.
        Reply
        1. D
          Dillip Patnaik
          Apr 20, 2015 at 11:26 pm
          Arvind please demolish all the slums and build high rising low income public housing buildings like South Korea or USA. These building should be in different parts of the city. There should not be a single street dweller or homeless person. those who have no jobs the city can provide them part-time or full time employment working in cleaning the city streets or water treatment facility or city park career in hospital or military facility or airport or installing solar-wind or in any factory or restaurant. These public housing buildings have to be electrified by solar-wind or by micro grid. These buildings should be supervised by the city health department along with the concern area ward member and local police authority.
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          1. G
            Gopal
            Apr 20, 2015 at 9:53 am
            The slums are a major part of the problem of Delhi. These are not just illegal but many of them are health hazards for the entire city. It is misleading to say that if you are pro-poor you must provide water, electricity, sanitation to the slums. Indeed, it is impossible to do because that will draw even more people in and further aggravate the environmental degradation. Instead, we need to prevent new slums from coming up. If the people in slums are needed to service the richer people, then the better off will just have to get used to doing things themselves. If we want to preserve the green cover, if we want better air and water we have to manage the mive urbanization. Preventing slums from coming up will also slow down the march from other towns into Delhi. Articles such as these are well intentioned but lack deeper insight.
            Reply
            1. K
              Kala
              Apr 20, 2015 at 8:47 am
              For God's sake , get your act together and start building toilets. Shut up, don't talk unnecessarily and provide one of the basic necessities in life. Toilets r not just for the rich Bollywood money hungry fools and the government! It's for ALL! You ppl have bn in power for decades and you can't even build toilets!!! Aren't you all ashamed of yourselves?? You are all only good at talking, empty talk!
              Reply
              1. R
                rs
                Apr 20, 2015 at 9:15 pm
                There can be no two opinions about the providing of toilets, drinking water, etc to these poorer sections of the society. But to deliver this AAP need to have a good working relations with center. But given their history Kejriwal and company are itching for a fight with center. As such you cannot expect much progress on this front. Infact AAP has to deliver on providing of TAP water to these poor people living in unauthorised colonies. While criticising Modi they should know that he had ensured TAP water to 15000 villages. AAP has a long long way to go. They should stop their Nautanki and start delivering on these issues.
                Reply
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