Every 3rd B’lorean lives in sub-human slum

Sunitha Rao R, TNN Mar 17, 2011, 05.04am IST

BANGALORE: Bangalore is hyphenated with Boston. Bangalored is a verb that denotes job loss through offshoring around the world. The glitz of the city’s towering tech campuses and the hype over its global IT city status hides the shameful fact that in the Bangalore of today, one in three people lives in a slum.

BBMP commissioner Siddaiah said that a minimum of 30% to 40% of Bangalore’s population is living in subhuman conditions in slums. Siddaiah has arrived at this figure after pounding the city streets day and night. “Traditionally, Bangalore has had a slum population. More than 1,000 slums can be found in the city if we do a detailed analysis. But not all of them have been notified as slums. Some have been facilitated with good drinking water, drainage and other civic amenities. But most of the slum dwellers are living in appalling, subhuman conditions. We need to take up development works here,” Siddaiah said. As per Census 2001, 23% of Bangaloreans lived in slums.

Bangalore’s slums vary in size and population. Ambedkar Circle slum has just 60 persons, whereas Pillaganahalli slum, near Gottigere (in south Bangalore), has over 2,258 households. Though Ullal is the second largest in terms of households (2076), it’s largest in terms of population with 10,380. The third largest is Ashraya Nagar slum located in Rajarajeshwari Nagar with 1,379 households.

High migration lead to higher slum population

The rising number of slum dwellers in Bangalore and overall in the state is mainly on account of rising migration.

“Migration and urban poverty are directly proportional to each other,” says S Madheswaran, professor at Centre for Economic studies, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC).

“As per the National Sample Survey conducted in 2007-08, the net migration in Karnataka is +10, when it’s -7 in other states, and in Kerala it is -44.” This means that in Karnataka for every 10 who move out, 20 move into the state. “Migration is more among labourers in Bangalore and this directly leads to urban poverty and, in turn, increases the slum population,” said Madheswaran.

S L Rao, economist and chairman, ISEC, believes that slums mustn’t be seen just as an eyesore, but as the natural outcome of a group of people with self-respect looking after themselves with hardly any civic amenities provided to them. “Slum dwellers lead a respectful life though they are poor. They do not beg or get involved in theft. Both the central and state governments have failed in implementing social welfare schemes that provide proper housing for slum dwellers. It is the failure of the system that I see in slums,” he said.

According to Prof Sadat Hasan Mansur, who has been fighting for the rights of slum dwellers for decades, eviction haunts them on a daily basis and that disturbs their employment and education. Providing housing for slum dwellers on the outskirts of the city hinders their growth, he added.

The number of slum dwellers in a decade has risen from 23% in 2001 to nearly 30-40% of the city’s current population. According to BBMP, city hosts 569 slums — of these, 228 are notified and 341 unauthorized. Nearly 1.7 lakh households live in these slums. Bangalore East, at 127, has the largest number.

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