Every fourth household in urban Maharashtra lives in a slum. While slums have long been a part of Mumbais landscape and have also troubled other big cities,it has now emerged that the problem has begun to spread its roots in smaller towns too.
Of the 80.18 lakh households found in 46 major and medium cities in Maharashtra,roughly 20.50 lakh households live in a slum. This is as per data compiled by the state government based on the latest census findings.
Interestingly,Mumbai,also referred to as the countrys slum capital,and neighbouring Thane have seen an overall decline in the number of slum households since 2001.
When compared to the 2001 slum census for cities in the state,the data reveals that it is smaller municipal corporations and towns like Bhiwandi-Nizampur,Kalyan-Dombivali,Ambarnath,Jalna,Ahmednagar,Vasai-Virar,Chandrapur,Nanded and Mira-Bhayander,among others,that have seen the highest proliferation of slums.
Abhay Pethe,Professor of Urban Economics,University of Mumbai,said the trend reflected the governments failure in creating inclusive and affordable housing even in these emerging towns. Inclusive housing remains a blind spot for the government. The government has virtually given up on public housing,which is not in the interest of the urban poor and the middle classes, he said.
Slum activist Simpreet Singh echoed his views: This clearly shows that the state has failed in learning from mistakes that were committed while planning metro cities.
There has been a staggering 42 per cent growth from 1.03 lakh in 2001 to 1.46 lakh in 2011 in the number of slum households in 13 medium cities with a population of 1 lakh to 3 lakh. In contrast,the corresponding growth in the case of 25 bigger cities has been less than 1 per cent since 2001.
The number of slum households in Mumbai has dropped from 13.32 lakh in 2001 to 11.01 lakh in 2011 a 17 per cent dip. Thane too has seen a near 7 per cent decline in the corresponding period.
The satellite town of Navi Mumbai,however,has witnessed a 48 per cent increase in slum households from 31,614 in 2001 to 46,685 in 2011. Similarly,neighbouring Kalyan-Dombivali,Mira Bhayander,and Ulhasnagar have witnessed a 196 per cent,59 per cent,and 11 per cent growth in slum households,respectively.
A 205 per cent growth in slum households has been recorded in Bhiwandi-Nizampur since 2001,which is the highest followed by Kalyan-Dombivali.
There are at least 53 per cent more slum households in Pune,while Pimpri-Chinchwad has recorded a 13 per cent growth.
The census defines a slum as residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation because they are dilapidated,cramped,poorly ventilated,unclean,or any combination of these factors which are detrimental to the safety and health.
The state housing department is now caught in a bind even as it begins to implement an action plan for slum-free cities under Rajeev Aawas Yojana. A senior official said the investment needed to resettle all these slums was a staggering Rs 1.25 lakh crore. Deliberations are on whether the action plan should focus on resolving the complex slum problem in the bigger cities or on nipping the problem in the bud in smaller towns. Both Pethe and Singh felt that the latter would be a much better approach. The state needs to be more proactive in this regard, said Pethe.