WHAT IS SLUM? A slum is a heavily populated urban informal settlement characterised by substandard housing and squalor. While slum differ in size and other characteristics, most lack reliable sanitation services, supply of clean water, reliable electricity, law enforcement and other basic services.
SITUATION OF SLUMS
- Unhygienic conditions.
- Lack of medical facilities.
- Lack of sanitation.
- No access to drinking water and electricity.
- Most of the slums inhabitants can’t be beneficiaries of government schemes.
- Only few slums are recognized under the conditions and prerequisites laid by the government. Conditions in unrecognized slums are even more worse.
- No drainage system. In most slums, wastewater flows in between houses.
- Whatever little medical facilities are available in the slums are provided by NGOs.
In such areas, people use common latrines and water taps. Some of the slum areas do not even have single rooms, they are thick clusters of small, dilapidated mud huts, the roofs and ceilings of which are made of scraps of wood, gunny sacks, metal or some sort of waste material. Sometimes 10 to 12 people live,eat and sleep in the same room. The streets are narrow and the sewage water stagnates in open surface drains, which emit bad smell. The children often play in places where the drains are used as open latrines.
Living conditions in many urban slums are worse than those in the poorest rural areas of the country. This can be attributed partly to the slum’s exceptionally unhealthy environment. Many of the most serious diseases in cities are ‘environmental’ because they are transmitted through air, water, soil and food or through insect or animal vectors.
The concentration of people in areas where the provision of water, sanitation, garbage collection and healthcare is inadequate, creates the conditions where infections and parasitic diseases associated with these inadequacies prevail.
CAUSES of slum dwellings
- Increasing rural to urban migration.
- urban areas are not being improved enough to accommodate the new inhabitants.
- Poor planning of cities.
- Poverty and lack of job opportunities in rural areas are the push factors of migration.
- Natural disasters.
- Increasing population.
- Urbanization- Pull factor of rural migration.
- Social exclusion.
- Informal economy.
- Some politics use slum inhabitants as their vote banks. Though they give fake promises of improving the living conditions, they encourage slums.
- Social conflicts- civil wars.
The slum people are labourers and other rickshaw pullers, scooter drivers etc. The reason for their being in big towns is that, they come here in search of greener pastures or rather, in search of some jobs. Since the big towns offer more opportunities, they throng here, and also do get the required work. Once they get the work, they obviously get settled in ‘homes’ or what we call the slums . With several people of this category coming to big towns for work, the phenomenon gives birth to a numbers of slum colonies which dwell near their place of work that is near the posh colonies.
Another big chunk of a population of this category is the construction workers with the expansion of construction activities in the big towns, these workers come and gather here and then stay put in slums.
Let us realise that, if the slum dwellers are there to work for us, they have to be near us – so, if we want them to work for us, we have to accept their presence also. However,inadvertently they become the cause of unhygienic conditions and spread of pollution. Since they have no place to bath, go to the toilet, wash their clothes, all this daily work is done in the open causing inconvenience to the residents of the areas.
- Reduced life expectancy of slum inhabitants.
- Health problems due to drinking contaminated water.
- Environment pollution.
- Low standard of living.
- Degraded health conditions.
- Those living in slums get victimized easily by alcohol and drugs.
- Slums inhabitants will become the worst victims of natural disasters.
- Slums breed violence, crime, diseases, epidemics and psychological illnesses.
- Preterm births.
- Malnutrition in children.
- Child labor.
- No safety for women living in slums due to lack of electricity and sanitation.
Let us realise that, if the slum dwellers are there to work for us, we have to create a conducive environment. Their presence poses a problem of security for the colonies, criminals find haven in the slums and are a constant source of worry for the inmates of colonies. With the slums rising in number, the population graph of these cities and towns also become unmanageable.Since all this leads to fewer resources per head, these become a scarce commodity in towns for the permanent dwellers. Everything is in short supply as, the amount available is to be shared with these slum dwellers. This, in turn is because the cities and towns were originally not planned for the huge exodus into the original towns.
Thus, slums destroy the scenario of towns and also add to the innumerable problems that are omnipresent. The calm and quiet existence of these areas is lost to the dirty and noisy appearance of the slums. However, at the same time if slums are removed and slum dwellers vanish, where will the so-called settled people get their workers from? Let us ponder upon this aspect and allow them a better existence which is beneficial for the symbiotic relationship between the city and slum dwellers.
Slum removal – It made slum inhabitants homeless.
Slum relocation – It moved poor people further away from their workplaces.
SUCCESSFUL STEPS which can be undertaken by corporates through csr activities
- Slum upgrading. It improved slums living conditions. But it does not address poverty and low wages of informal economy.
- Organized urbanization – Planning and modifying urban areas to accommodate newcomers.
- Legitimizing slums instead of driving them out of their homes.
- Improving job opportunities in rural as well as urban areas.
- Planning rural development along with urban development.
- Economic development.
- Better transport facilities.
- Affordable housing in urban areas.
- To provide better housing condition and provide home to homeless people.
- To provide education and health services.
- To provide safe drinking water and favourable environment.
- To promote vocational skills.
WHAT INDIA IS DOING
- Government of India launched ‘National Urban Health Mission’ to improve health care facilities for urban poor.
- India implemented ‘slum upgrading’ in a few recognized slums.
- In 2015, Indian government allocated budget to replace crowded slums with 2 crore homes.
The development of the slum area is necessary for the healthy environment of the urban areas. Proper education should be provided to the slum people so that they become aware of health and are not exploited by others.
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