Decrease in Slum numbers: Has State become Effective?

With the release of its 69th round round of surveys earlier this week, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) has brought some staggering facts in front of us. What can be termed as quite unexpected, a significant decrease in the number of slums in urban India was reported in the data.

For anyone who has seen what Dharavi in Mumbai looks like up from close, this is nothing but a revelation of the highest kind.Decrease in Slum numbers

As per the survey, a decline of over 32% was reported in the number of slums existing in urban India from about 49,000 in the year 2009 to 33,150 in 2012.

This is a remarkable transformation to the say the least. It also means the state is getting effective and way better than the bad old days. Is it such?

However, what NSSO articulates in its report can’t be relied upon with blind closed eyes, considering dubious nature many of its surveys carried in the past.

Even if the decrease of 32% seems difficult to digest for the wise minds of the country, at least the report suggests that slum numbers are on a certain decline.

What exactly is leading to this decline? Is it the state rising to the occasion on the right moment or economic status of the people improving substantially over the years? Should the UPA II government be credited with the success?

NSSO officials, when asked, about the reason for the decrease pronounce that about 24% slums on a national scale had been recognized as benefiting from various targeted schemes of central and state governments.

These include Rajiv Awas Yojana and the urban renewal mission, the popular house-building schemes. Also, 95% of urban households reported improved access to drinking water in the year 2012. Therefore, the encouraging results can be attributed to the governments, both at centre and state to a considerable extent.

Business Standard reports that political parties are now providing more importance to the slum voters which constitute a sizable population in the elections. Also, what Aam Aadmi Party achieved in recently held elections in Delhi by wooing aspirational slum voters will encourage other political units as well to channelize more of their energy towards this neglected lot. The other reason that the news paper points out is the improved sanitary conditions in the area.

The 69th round of the NSS survey also says that less than 9 % of urban households had no access to a latrine. However, 62 per cent of urban households had exclusive use of a latrine facility of some sort. And, the rest of the people had to share – but it’s still a comparative improvement of sorts if nothing more.

Nevertheless, the governments fail to deliver in terms of sanitation when it comes at rural front. Roughly 60% of rural households couldn’t access a latrine, which is unfortunate in its own way. The recently out figures may be too encouraging for our governments, but a lot is still to be achieved and hope the numbers need no revision unlike many times in the past.

Ashish Pandey

I am a business and finance journalist who is currently employed at Financial Express and previously at Zee News. My areas of interest include business and foreign policy. You can reach me on Twitter at @ashuvirgo1984 or @eFundsPlus.

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