A huge 89.6 per cent of people living in slums die of respiratory diseases followed by digestive problems (41.6 per cent) and aches and pains (37.8 per cent), reveals a survey of slums in Mumbai by the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS). The study, which had asked if any member of the household had suffered from the listed morbidity in the past one year, was conducted by the Population-Human Settlement-Environment Centre (Pop-Envis) of IIPS under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The others included eye- related problems (20.7 per cent), blood pressure or heart problems (12.8 per cent), skin problems (12.5 per cent) and diabetes (9 per cent).
The paper says that while cold and cough, seasonal flu and diarrhea are common diseases in the slum areas, most of these slums do not have public hospitals nearby and go to local quacks for treatments.
According to the authors, the survey scientifically selected slum households from six wards that belong to two zones of slum concentration in the Mumbai metropolitan region, that is, one zone with higher concentration of slum population and second zone with lower concentration of slum population. The sample size was calculated based on 42.6 per cent slum population in Mumbai according to Census 2011.
The total number of households covered in the survey was 1,452 and the findings represent the overall situation of slum conditions in Mumbai, says the paper.
The study shows that the reported pollution problems include sound (46.6 per cent), foul smell (72.7 per cent) and smoke (32.8 per cent).
“Garbage dumping bins are present, generally in the middle or nearby slums, which mostly overflow with garbage leading to scattered garbage thrown on the ground nearby causing foul smell and flies. The municipality provides garbage clearance services in most of the notified slums, but that is irregular and unsatisfactory. Unauthorised slums have no proper system of garbage disposal and most slums experience water-logging during monsoon,” says the study.
It further revealed that while clean fuel, that is, gas is mainly used for cooking, most households do not have a separate kitchen and chimney facility. While 76 per cent use LPG, 48 per cent use kerosene and 14 per cent use wood or dung cake. The perceived unclean slum surrounding stands at 43.8 per cent, whereas the perceived poor cleanliness of community toilets figures at 83.5 per cent. This despite the fact the the mean monthly expenses for using community toilet is Rs 76.
With 85 per cent of the community toilets having irregular water supply, the paper says that none of the community toilets surveyed has adequate water facility inside the toilets and people have to carry water with them. The toilets are generally in poor condition, primarily because of lack of care by the users and poor maintenance by the municipality. “It is more troublesome for children and the elderly, who have to be accompanied by someone to carry water to the toilets. In authorised slums, toilets are cleaned by the municipality and since the services are not regular, almost all slums surveyed have a private party to regularly clean the toilet on payment basis, ranging from Rs 10-20 per household every month. Toilets also lack disposal facility, facility for hand wash or bathing,” it says.
The study also shows that while most residents of authorised slums know about the slum rehabilitation scheme, they have poor experience and apprehensions about the slum transition camps as they are not well-structured for families to live and it especially affects those who work from home or have businesses set up at home.
“They also fear that the contractor and mediators may take a share of this slum development project and will use low quality materials, and may take money for allotments of houses within the building,” it says.