34% in slums have no toilet, but 63% own mobile phone in India: Census 2011

Life in a slum is comparable to life in most urban households in India: Census 2011

Life in a slum is comparable to life in most urban households in India, according to Census 2011 data on living conditions in slums. Depending on how one looks at it, ?slumming it? may just have acquired a whole new meaning ? either most Indian towns live the life of slums or the quality of life in slums is improving.

While the lack of privacy, sanitation and sewage remain a concern in slums, Census data on ?Housing Stock, Amenities and Assets in Slums?, which was released here on Thursday, show how this lack of physical space hasn?t cramped aspirations in slums. Consider this: 74 per cent slum households have access to tap water while 70.6 per cent urban households have access to the same. Which means, you have a better chance of drinking tap water if you lived in a slum than if you were outside one.

According to the report, around 68 million Indians live in slums. In 2001, 23.5 per cent of households in urban areas were in slums; it has now come down to 17.4 per cent. While 70.2 per cent slum households are self-owned, the corresponding number for urban households is 69. 2 per cent. Seventy-seven per cent structures in slums are permanent while 84.3 per cent urban households have permanent structures. Most slum households are electrified ? 90.5 per cent, only marginally less than urban households (92.7 per cent).

New media has made its way into slums ? 72.7 per cent households have phones, of which 63.5 per cent have only mobile phones and 10.4 per cent slum households have computers. Also, 94.1 per cent slum households have a kitchen inside their homes and 51.3 per cent use either LPG or piped gas to cook. However, a high percentage of slum households (47.4 per cent) still use polluting fuels such as wood, cow dung cakes and kerosene to cook.

There is a long way to go before slums become livable ? 44.3 per cent have open drainage and 34 per cent have no toilet within the premises; 18.9 per cent defecate in the open. For 71.9 per cent slum households, privacy is a luxury. These households have between four and nine and above members.

Data from 2,543 towns shows there are 1.37 crore slum households in the country. A majority of these (71 per cent) are located in six states ? Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Three cities in Andhra Pradesh are part of the top 10 million-plus cities with high proportion of slum households. The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corp has the highest proportion of slum households to total urban households in the country ? 44.1 per cent, two places above the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation.

Ajay Maken, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, who released the data in presence of MoS for Home, R P N Singh and Census Commissioner C Chandramouli, said his ministry was planning to set up a Slum Upgradation Index to monitor its schemes. He also said the government would not distinguish between notified, recognised and identified slums while providing financial assistance under the Rajiv Awaas Yojana.

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First published on: 22-03-2013 at 10:51 IST