Skip to main content

Gujarat slums one of the worst in India: Census data, studies

By Rajiv Shah 
There have been numerous arguments in favour of improving and upgrading the infrastructure of slum settlements, many of which are interrelated. It has been shown by studies that improving living conditions can bring gains to the quality of life, health, and productivity of slum residents. As a recent study by Benjamin Stanwix, a South African scholar, for Mahila Housing Sewa Trust, Ahmedabad, states, “ It can help to break the cycle of poverty, ease the burden on women, and can also be a public good with positive spill-over effects on the wider economy and society. These arguments have been discussed in more detail below.” The study, titled “Urban Slums in Gujarat and Rajasthan: Study of Basic Infrastructure in Seven Cities” (2009) notes, life in the absence of adequate access to basic services such as water and ablutions can be precarious. It is detrimental to health, safety and the dignity of communities. It quotes a UN Habitat study which shows that lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation can lead to a range of diseases, while factors such as overcrowding and pollution can also contribute to health problems.
Indeed, there is enough reason to believe that illnesses force households to pay extra medical expenditure which can push them deeper into poverty and indebtedness. This reduces the number of working days for ordinary wage earners and self-employed persons. Illness often leads to asset depletion and debt in order to fund private healthcare, and thus is one of the most powerful forces pushing households into poverty. Good sanitation and sewage facilities ensure a safer and healthier lifestyle, which in turn lead to a healthy workforce with higher productive capacity. Less money would be spent on illnesses, and in the long-term, these health gains would benefit not just the individuals concerned, but the wider economy and society.
Life in slums is particularly difficult for women as the burden of household work in the absence of infrastructure usually falls on them, for example fetching and carrying water. They also have to struggle to maintain household hygiene in the context of poor drainage and sanitation. It is women who are most vulnerable to harassment or assault when using open areas in the absence of toilet facilities, or due to insufficient street lighting at night. Thus, women may derive the greatest benefit from improvements in infrastructure. Improvements in water supply, access to toilets, and drainage reduce this burden on women, and increase their time for other activities. Access to water, for example, is a vital part of every day life.
The Census of India 2011 figures show that there is enough reason for Gujarat to be concerned about poor conditions in which the state’s slum dwellers live. Census data suggest, about 48.01 per cent of the slum houses are in “good” condition, while other houses may be either “livable” or in a “dilapidated” state. This is one of the worst in India. While all-India the comparative figure is 58.41 per cent, Gujarat is worse off most competing states – Maharashtra has 57.86 per cent of slum houses under the category, Karnataka 57.36 per cent, Kerala with 62.93 per cent, Tamil Nadu with 69.18 per cent, Madhya Pradesh with 57.85 per cent, Andhra Pradesh with 75.03 per cent, Rajasthan with 56.56 per cent, West Bengal with 50.51 per cent, and Uttar Pradesh with 49.51 per cent. The figures suggest that only Bihar (41.89 per cent), Orissa (38.09 per cent), and Punjab (42.67 per cent) fair worse than Gujarat as far as urban slum housing is concerned.
Things are not very different for the amenities available in the slum, if the Census data are any indication. In Gujarat, 64.41 per cent houses have latrines within the premises, as against the all-India figure of 66.01 per cent. Kerala, as expected, is the best, with 93.21 per cent houses having attached toilets, followed by Tamil Nadu’s 82.35 per cent. In Gujarat’s slums, 58.72 per cent of the houses have attached bathrooms, as against the all-India average of 66.57 per cent. As a matter of comparison, Andhra Pradesh’s 81.68 per cent and Maharashtra’s 75.12 per cent houses were found to be having attached bathrooms. Further, in 36.74 houses of Gujarat slums, there were no separate kitchens, as against the all-India average of 28.79 per cent. For comparison, Maharashtra’s 29.19 per cent houses and Andhra Pradesh’s 21.93 per cent of the houses did not have separate kitchens.
Spot surveys suggest that poor living conditions in slums in Gujarat have had a heavy toll on the health of the slum dwellers. A study published in the journal “Indian Pediatrics”, April 2013, by Archana S Nimbalkar, Vivek K Shukla, Ajay G Pathak and Someshekhar M Nimbarlkar, titled “Newborn Care Practices and Health Seeking Behavior in Urban slums and villages of Anand, Gujarat” says, “The socioeconomic and education status of the slum dwellers versus rural participants were significantly lower (P<0.001). Antenatal care (79.9 vs 94.4%,P<0.001), hospital delivery (82.5 vs 93.8%, P=0.002), neonatal follow-up (27.9 vs 78.8%, P<0.001), health seeking (56.5 vs 91.3%, P<0.001), essential newborn care and exclusive breastfeeding (6.5vs 85.6%, P<0.001) were also lower in urban slums, as compared to villages. Care seeking was low in urban slums, Hindus and illiterate mothers. Health care and socioeconomic status of neonates in slums of smaller cities is poorer than in surrounding villages.”
The authors further say that the “study has revealed wide socioeconomic gap between slums and villages. The gap exists even for a small town with a population smaller than the national average for a city. There is lack properly functional and structured healthcare delivery system in urban slums vis-à-vis urban and rural areas.” They add, “Proximity of the slums to two multispecialty hospitals and smaller private hospitals did not improve utilization of services. Urban slum dwellers are ignorant about their health needs and also lack attitude for seeking healthcare. There is lack of basic sanitation (72 per cent), and water supply facility (44.8 per cent) in most slum residents. Healthcare acceptability of government infrastructure was low in both areas. Neonatal follow-up and care of infants requiring medical attention was provided by unqualified personnel or not taken in 72 per cent of slum areas.”
The National Sample Survey (NSS) report report, “Some Characteristics of Urban Slums”, brought out in 2010, basing on the survey conducted from July 2008 to June 2009, found that the condition of slums in Gujarat is not only dismal but is perhaps worst compared to nine other states surveyed — Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Identifying slums as notified and non-notified, the NSS reports “wide variation across states” in pucca houses in urban slums. Identifying just 14 per cent and 29 per cent pucca houses in notified non-notified slums respectively in Gujarat, the report says, “In some states like Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal and Maharashtra, 72 per cent or more slums had the majority of their houses built with pucca materials.” As for Gujarat, along with Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, its “majority of the houses are of type semi-pucca or katcha.”
As for urban slum facilities, just 19 per cent notified slums had pucca roads in Gujarat, which is worst than all other nine states surveyed. While the NSS notices a “marked improvement in the quality of the main road within the slum is seen since 2002”, it finds that “Orissa and Gujarat had the lowest proportions of notified slums with pucca main road within the slum.” Things were found to be no better with other facilities. As many as 59 per cent of notified and 53 per cent of non-notified slums suffered from water logging during monsoons, which is higher than all states except for Orissa. As for sanitation, the NSS report found that Gujarat’s 39 per cent notified slums and 48 per cent of non-notified slums did have latrines, as against the national average of 10 and 20 per cent respectively. This almost corroborates what the Census data suggest. 
Benjamin Stanwix’s study further throws light on Gujarat slums. Her survey suggested that “in the slums of Ahmedabad about 3,200 person-hours were spent each morning in just collecting water”, mainly by women. She adds, “This time could be productively spent elsewhere if households had access to their own reliable water source. Her survey suggests that “58 per cent of households spent more than 30 minutes per trip to fill water, and 27 per cent of the families had to travel more than one kilometre to obtain water. In addition, for those who used public taps installed by the municipality, water supply was available on average for only 2.5 hours per day.” As against this, “99 per cent of households who had their own water facility spent little time collecting water, while a large number who did not have their own tap spent substantial time on collecting water.”
The survey found that 14 per cent of the families of the slums defecated in the open, adding, “Of those who did not have their own toilet facility, 2,700 households stated that they urgently required a toilet in their house, and of these families 80 per cent showed willingness to pay to acquire a toilet.” Further, it was found that 17 per cent households did not have any storm water drainage, and only 10 per cent had no gutter for sewerage. “Of those that did have some kind of drainage, 20 per cent reported problems of water clogging. One-third of all households had to pay for repairs on their houses in the rainy season because of lack of drainage system or due to dysfunction of drains. The regression analysis done later in the report examines the impact of drainage on health”, the report stated.
Sanwix concluded, “Overall, the data showed that about one-third of the families who lived in slums were poor. Many lived in inadequate houses and had insufficient access to basic infrastructure such as water, toilet and drainage facilities. When asked to rate which resources were most urgently needed, the first three were water, toilet and drainage, respectively. Regarding savings, only few households said that they saved, and those who saved were almost exclusively households with higher incomes. Nearly two-thirds of households took e loans, and the majority of them took loan from informal sources. The regression analysis suggests that the basic amenities have relationship with the health of the households, and therefore, also with the monthly amount spent on healthcare.”
Despite such conditions in urban slums, studies show that awareness among the slum dwellers about how to get out of such situation by taking advantage of government schemes was limited. A 2009 study, “Housing for the Urban Poor: A Study of Ten Towns under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (ISHDP) in Gujarat” — Anand, Boriyavi, Gondal, Halol, Himmatnagar, Jetpur, Khambhat, Prantij, Unjha and Upleta – says, “Despite the goal of implementing the IHSDP (which is Central government scheme having a participatory effort with a humane approach towards the urban poor) there are hardly any mechanisms created to ensure participation and sensitivity to the needs of the poor. Even in two of the five slums that are identified for in-situ upgrade, people showed lack of awareness of the scheme. The lack of awareness is very worrisome and shows that the nagarpalikas urgently need to review the methods used to communicate details of the scheme to the slums, and underlines the need to employ proper consultation mechanisms. Not only is there very poor awareness about the scheme, it is also doubtful whether many who seem to have applied will be able to afford it in the absence of appropriate financing arrangements that take into account the paying capacity and livelihood pattern of the poor.”
The study, carried out by Unnati, an Ahmedabad-based NGO, says that the IHSDP is a major initiative that subsumes most of the previous major schemes for slum improvement as well as those for housing the poor and the marginalised. Of the 10 towns included in this study, implementation of the IHSDP had begun in 2009, when the study was carried out, in eight, and in the remaining two the work was yet to begin. All the ten towns taken together had received almost 32 per cent of the planned outlay. “On the whole, when all units as planned are considered, 70 percent slum dwellers in the 10 towns cannot be accommodated in the scheme. Further, as the scheme is open to any urban poor, including the slums, the number of units planned is grossly inadequate compared to the scale of the problems it seeks to address. The local authorities do not appear to view it as an opportunity to move towards providing better living conditions in slums, but more as an opportunity to beautify the town”, the study underlines.
The study says, “In such a situation there is a possibility that many of the slums will be evicted from their current location and pushed to the periphery. In spite of the good intentions, the manner of implementation seems to lose focus on providing the poor access to affordable housing, and shies away from working out mechanisms that will enable the poor to fully realize the opportunity available to them through IHSDP. In the absence of creating supporting financing arrangements that take into account the peculiarities of the livelihood systems of the poor, there is the risk of this scheme subtly transforming into a slum clearance project. In the absence of genuine sensitivity to the plight of the poor, there is the danger that the officials in urban local bodies (ULBs) could become more concerned about ‘beautification’ of the town than ensuring affordable housing to the poor.”
The study found that less than 25 per cent of the households had electricity. “In many cases, the electric connection was illegal and amounted to stealing from the supply line. In nine slums not a single household has electricity. The discussions with the slum dwellers revealed a huge lack of trust and communication between the people and local authorities. The dismal lack of awareness about IHSDP and government schemes for the poor must be seen in this background. Hardly any local officials visited the slums, and on most occasions when they did so, it had been in connection with some survey, with the slum dwellers completely in the dark about the purpose of the survey. Only in very rare cases there were instances of visits by officials to discuss with people or conduct meetings to discuss the problems”, it said.

Comments

TRENDING

Mental health: We talk of poverty figures, but not increase in suicides since 2014

By IMPRI Team Highlighting  the issue of mental health and addressing the challenges involved, # IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Institutional Support for Mental Health and Wellbeing under the #WebPolicyTalk series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps . The discussion was chaired by Prof Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI and Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai . The distinguished panel included – Prof Anuradha Sovani, Former Professor and Head, Department of Psychology, and Former Dean, Faculty of Humanities at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and National Core Committee member and Ethics Committee Chairperson, Association of Adolescent and Child Care India ; Dr Soumitra Pathare, Director, Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy at Indian Law Society, Pune ; Dr Swati Rane, Founder CEO at SevaShakti Healthcare Consultancy, Mumbai and Founder V

How India, Bangladesh perceive, manage Sunderbans amidst climate change

By IMRPI Team The effects of climate change have been evident, and there have been a lot of debates around the changes to be made locally to help and save the earth. In this light, the nations met at the COP 26 conference recently. To discuss this further, the Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi , organized a panel discussion on “COP 26 and Locally Led Adaptations in India and Bangladesh Sunderbans” under the #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of the Environment – #PlanetTalks . The talk was chaired by Dr Jayanta Basu, Director, Non-profit EnGIO, Faculty at Calcutta University and an Environmental Journalist, The Telegraph , ABP . The Moderator of the event, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director, IMPRI , started the discussion by stressing the talk on the living conditions of people living in the Sunderbans Delta from both the countries, i.e. India and Bangladesh. According to the report

NEP: Education must shift away from knowledge, move to teaching students

Dr Anjusha Gawande* The Education sector in the globe is changing dramatically. Many manual jobs may be captured over by machines as a consequence of multiple spectacular advances in science and technology, including the machine learning, and artificial intelligence. A professional workforce, particularly one that includes mathematics, computer science, and data science, as well as multidisciplinary competencies in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, will be in incredibly popular. As a result, education must shift away from knowledge and toward teaching students, how to be creative and transdisciplinary, and how to innovate, adapt, and process information differently in innovative and rapidly changing sectors. The education development agenda at the global level is represented in Goal 4 (SDG4) of India's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted in 2015. Ministry of Education has announced the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) on 29.07.2020. In J

Dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and sustainable growth of mediocrity

By Arup Mitra* The theory of mediocrity would suggest that the meritorious who are always small in number as a nature’s gift will be dominated by a vast number of mediocre as the latter cannot withstand the inferiority they suffer from. By subjugating the merit, they derive a pleasure of having established their superiority. Such processes are functional in all spheres in life though the field of art is the worst sufferer. An artist mind is most sensitive and those who are meritorious in this lot possess exceptionally different traits. This makes them more vulnerable and, on the other hand, it paves the path of the mediocre to cast their shadows all around. Unjust and strong criticisms are sufficient to detract many. In developing countries, the modes of subjugation are many. Individuals do not hesitate to take recourse to criminal means as the subconscious prevalent with vengeance, accesses easily the outlets for execution. The lack of civility and the power of money form a unique com

Migrant problem during Covid and the role of equality for cohesive development

By IMPRI Team  The covid-19 pandemic has deepened the pre-existing inequalities across socio-economic groups, the distressing images of migrants’ exposure remained attached in our minds but not a lot has changed in terms of data collection and policy making since then to understand the role of equality for cohesive development. Cohesive development also means that human beings should respect the boundaries of nature which they cross at their own peril and the peril of other living beings on earth. In lieu to this, The State of Development Discourses – #CohesiveDevelopment, #IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) , #IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute , New Delhi organized #WebPolicyTalk with Prof Amiya Kumar Bagchi, on The Role of Equality for Cohesive Development. The session is inaugurated by Ms Mahima Kapoor, researcher and assistant editor at IMPRI. Ms Mahima Kapoor extended her gratitude to the speaker, moderator and the discussant. The moderator for the eve

Parallel govts: How unity of various streams of freedom movements took shape in India

By Bharat Dogra  In one of the most inspiring examples of highly courageous spontaneous actions based on the unity of people, parallel governments were formed by freedom fighters in several parts of India in the course of the Quit India Movement in 1942. Although generally four such leading efforts have been identified in Satara (Maharashtra), Talcher (Odisha), Tamluk (West Bengal) and Ballia (Uttar Pradesh), there were some other smaller efforts as well such as those in Bhagalpur (Bihar) and Gurpal (Balasore, Odisha). It is very interesting to see in most of these efforts (also very significant for understanding the freedom movement) that there was constant merging of the various streams of the freedom movement, with more militant activities openly taking place with the help of quickly mobilized militias and this being combined with various constructive programs emphasized by Mahatma Gandhi such as anti-liquor efforts and anti-untouchability movements. In addition we see actions in

West Bengal police inaction in immoral trafficking case of a Muslim woman

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, on Muslim woman victim trafficking, police inaction, and need immediate rescue: I am writing to inform you about a case of illegal trafficking and profuse police inaction regarding the same of a marginalized Muslim teenager named Anima Khatun (name changed), daughter of Mr. Osman Ali. The victim and her husband had been residents of the village Daribas, under Dinhata police station Cooch Behar district since their marriage in 2014. Six months following their marriage, Anima Khatun along with her husband, sister-in-law, sister-in-law's husband as well as her in-laws shifted to Delhi in search of work. They stayed there for 2 years after which they all came back to their native village. They stayed at their native residence for about one month and then they went back to Delhi. In Delhi, Anima was in touch with her family till the next six months, after which t

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

Bangladesh sets shining example of communal peace, harmony in South Asia

By Dr. Abantika Kumari Bangladesh is made up of 160 million people who are multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual. The Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees all citizens the freedom to freely and peacefully practice their chosen religions. Religious minorities make up roughly 12% of Bangladesh's present population, according to conservative estimates . Hindus account for 10% of the population, Buddhists for 1%, Christians at 0.50 percent, and ethnic minorities for less than 1%. As an example of how people of different religions can live together, cooperate together, and simply be together, Bangladesh is regarded. Bangladesh is a country that values religious liberty, harmony, and tolerance. Bangladesh's population is made up of a diverse spectrum of religious groupings and ethnic groups. Such communities and groups live in harmony, putting aside their differences and learning to embrace and respect the diverse and diversified culture that has contributed to Bangladesh

Political leaders' actions are causing decontextualisation of democracy

By Harasankar Adhikari In India, does democracy become a matter of prescription, i.e., to follow the footpath left? Isn't it, in some ways, the adoption of certain prescribed procedures and mechanisms, such as timely election and populist schemes for the poor, etc.? In some cases, acts of government and governance turn democracy into a myth. It is full of political party-based agendas. This continuous hegemonic practise creates a conditional situation for the people of India. People elect their representatives who are not their representatives. They are only representatives of a particular political party that nominated them in the election. Democratic decentralisation of power is undoubtedly a unique step towards the grass roots. But a Panchayat member has no free will to act without the party’s instruction and approval. Michael Saward, a political philosopher, defines democracy as a matter of correspondence in state-society relationships. But India’s parliamentary democracy is un