Sunday, August 14, 2005

Situation in Mumbai Slums & State Policy

Till now in my posts on Urban Slums I have looked at the extent of the problem at various levels. It should be evident reading these that urban slums are a huge problem which cannot be ignored. Almost quater of urban India lives in slums and >40-45% of the population in major metropiltion areas in India live in slums in very poor conditions. Now in the posts to come on slums I will look at government policy towards slums/housing in urban areas. The purpose of this is to analyze/evaluate/understand govt. policy. This will help in getting a feel of why has the situation worsened and what are the solutions?.

As per the Indian constitution housing, urban land policies are in the functional domain of the state governments. So center can only issue directives, guiding principles but actual legislation has to be drafted/passed by the state governements. The center can influence policy through conditions on resource allocations for these policies. As per the 74th ammendment of the constitution of India most of the housing/slum improvement related policies fall under the domain of the municiplaity (local city government). But due to lack of resources these tend to be looked after by the various state governement offices. Due to these reasons policies towards slums vary across states and sometimes across cities. We will thus first look at policies related to Mumbai slums. I have used several sources, listed at the end, for this blog. None of the numbers listed below are from first hand study, but i have tried to cross reference and the numbers are mostly from govt./UN studies.

Types of housing options for Poor in Mumbai
Before going deep into policy lets look at type of housing options for poor in Mumbai. These include Chawls, Patra chawls (consisting mainly of semi-permanent structures, which can be both authorised and unauthorised); Zopadpattis (squatter housing); and pavement dwellings. Although pavement dwellings and chawls have poor slum-like conditions, these do not fall under
the legal definition of ‘slum’. Pavement dwellings are houses built on foothpaths and a large number of their occupants include street children. As these are not recognized as slums by goverment, they do not have security of tenure and face the constant threat of evictions. Also they are not eligible for any improvements under the slum policies.

Conditions in Mumbai Slums
Acoording to various studies in Greater Mumbai there are 1,959 slum settlements with a total population of 6.25 million, which forms 54 per cent of the total population of the city (Census of India, 2001). Average household size is 4.5 and the sex ratio is much better (842 females per thousand males) than in the rest of the city. 62% of slums have predominantly "pakka structures", 27% have semi-permanant strucutures. Houses are very small with 42 per cent dwellings having an area of less than 10 m2 and 38 per cent having an area between 15 to 20 m2, and only 9 per cent had area more than 20m2. About 49 per cent of slums have access to water supply from shared standpipes, while 38.3 per cent have a supply from more than one source. Remaining slums get their water from tube wells or community standpipes. Only 5 per cent of slums have individual taps whereas 17 slums with approximately 0.1 million inhabitants (0.87 per cent of the total) have no water supply and have to depend on adjoining settlements. Slum communities are clearly in favour of individual water connections. Women and children daily spend a lot of time and have to make several trips to collect water. Sanitation in slums is very poor as 73 per cent of slums depend on community toilets provided by the government, 28 per cent defecate in the open, 0.7 per cent slums have pay to use toilets managed by NGOs and only 1 per cent of slums have individual toilets. Others have mixed provisions or use toilets in other slums or mobile toilets. Inadequate numbers of toilets lead to long waiting times. Overuse and poor maintenance makes them unhygienic. Inadequate numbers of garbage bins/receptacles, lack of awareness amongst people about ill effects of indiscriminate dumping and inefficiency of local bodies are some of the reasons for poor solid waste management in slums.

Occupations & Income
30 per cent of workers were self-employed, 44 per cent were working in private establishments, 9 per cent were in government service and only 17 per cent were casual workers. Average monthly household incomes were Rs. 2,978 and 40 per cent of households were considered to be below the poverty line. Recycling of waste including plastics is very common in
many slums. Many women work as maids in surrounding residential areas.

The majority of slum dwellers identified themselves with the city rather than with their native place and plan to settle permanently in the city. In spite of poor conditions in slums, most residents felt that life in slum is tolerable and city life was certainly better than rural life. Almost 60 per cent felt that their houses were tolerable (Gill, 1994 p 60-85). Slum dwellers were also aware that traditional social safety nets do not exist in today’s slums. They greatly value improving their working situation through getting a better job, yet have, again by middle class standards, low aspirations and have a very optimistic view of their chances of upward social mobility. All of them, irrespective of age, gender, wealth and educational attainment express their high regard for education and foresaw upward social mobility for their children by educating their offspring as much as possible. They confessed, however, that there was not an atmosphere conducive to study.

Policy affecting avability of land/housing:

Two long term policies have affected the avability of housing in Mumbai.
The Mumbai Rent Control Act (1947):
Rental control act was introduced to freeze rents at 1940 levels and the rights of tenants against evictions. This was meant to protect rights of people living in chawls, but chawl owners never invested in chawl maintaineance and the living conditions in chawls have detoritated since. These provisions had a negative impact on private investments in rental housing elsewhere also. The Rent Control Act was subsequently revised in 1986 and later in 1993, but the revisions are applicable only to new properties.

The Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act of 1976:
This act was sought to control land speculation and to achieve a more equitable distribution of land by putting a ceiling of 500 m2 on vacant urban land in Mumbai that could be held in private ownership. All the land in excess of this ceiling was supposed to be returned to the government which could use it for housing the poor. Some of the major owners of vast stretches of vacant land in Mumbai are charitable trusts of big industrialists and businessmen. The Act was often by-passed by using the ‘exemption clause’ by manipulation and getting permission from the Corporation to build, leading to a total defeat of the stated objectives of the Act. These restrictions actually reduced the supply of formal land. Also the land which was acquired by goverment under the law was never used for housing.

There are many more policies to look into and understand before we can get a sense of whats wrong ??. But its too late now and the blog entry is already too big so lets cover it later. What do you think are the reasons that we have so many people living in abject conditions ?.

1. Book: Holding their ground - Alian Durand et al
2. IPT's report on Mumbai slum evictions.
3. UN case study on Mumbai slums.
4. Enviornemental situation of slums in India


At 1:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i am an environmental student i am doing research on the comparitive analysis of housing in the urban,rural,and forest sectors.i found your report interesting my emailid is .i am in pune could you give me any additional info regarding this topic. thanks a ton

At 1:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, i m working in a slum rehabilitation firm . i liked ur report on slums.could u be able to send me some information on slums that would be great.i m doing research on emailid is a lot

At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi.. I was looking to use some of data. Could you please state your sources, so I could credit them..?

At 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi!i read your blog and found it really interesting.A question that arises is what makes these millions shift from rural places and live in such conditions? what are the push factors?

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Janak India - Surveying Instrument said...

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At 9:25 PM, Blogger SUSHANTO said...

hii i am sushanto banerjee from pune i have a plan to make our country slum free. if u would like to see there is my email id i realy appreciate your blog.

At 11:21 PM, Blogger chamkaur said...

Hi i am chamkaur singh from patiala punjab... I hv studying on slums human rights can u plz send me such a valueable knowledge about human rights of these peoples.. this is my email. Address.


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