The increasing urbanisation of poverty, that is a decrease in the number of rural poor accompanied by an increase in number of urban poor, would lead to 20.5 million people living in slums in Maharashtra by 2017. The recently released 2011 Maharashtra Human Development Index (HDI) report points out that the slum population of the state would account for a fifth of the country’s total projected slum population.
Citing Census figures, the report says has been only a 25.6 per cent decadal increase in the number of rural households in Maharashtra as compared to 37.7 per cent increase in urban households mainly owing to inter-state and inter-district migration.
The report notes that such high levels of urbanization has implications on housing poverty in particular as is manifested in the increasing number of slum households in the state.
Comparison of the available National Sample Survey Organization data shows that slum households in the state have swelled from 16,662 in 2002 to 17,019 in 2009. Moreover, any significant improvement in the three main housing facilities, such as households with drinking water, electricity and toilets, were more pronounced in rural areas than in urban areas. This, the HDR notes, “is a cause for concern, given the fast paced urbanisation in the state.”
The Maharashtra HDI is the composite index of development indicators such as literacy rate, gross enrollment rate, infant mortality rate and per capita net domestic product (at constant prices). While housing is not one of the indicators, in keeping with the basic capability approach of HDI, the report states that the availability of housing has “direct bearing on the health and educational attainments of the population and thus impinges on their capabilities.”
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In view of the startling housing poverty in urban Maharashtra, the report suggests corrective measures such as revising the poverty line upwards to reflect the high cost of housing and if not, ensuring that social housing programmes are not targeted merely at those below the poverty line. This rural-urban disparity is also visible in the extent of inequality in consumption-distribution, says the report.
Minal Naravane, director at the Centre for Human Development at YASHADA and one of the main architects of the report, said that as compared to the 2002 HDI, the state had improved its performances on almost all development indicators. She added that Maharashtra had also reduced the gender gap in literacy and life expectancy.
“However, the decrease in child sex ratio from 913 in 2001 to 883 in 2011 is a cause for concern, so is the quality of education with most children lacking in basic reading, writing and arithmetic abilities,” said Naravane.