Source: Subodh Varma, TNN Oct 12, 2013, 03.49AM IST
Through a bunch of omissions, Census 2011 appears to seriously underestimate the number of slum dwellers in India, putting it at 6.5 crore people spread over 2613 towns.
But, over 5 crore urban population living in newly emerged urban areas was not covered for slum identification during the census.India has an urban population of 37.7 crore living in a total of 7935 towns. Of these towns, 4041 are administered by some local body like a municipality. These are called statutory towns. Slums were counted only in these towns.
The remaining 3894 towns do not yet have a local body. Since they fulfill the criteria of “urban” areas the Census classifies them as “census towns”. But strangely, while counting the slum population the Census did not consider these Census Towns at all.
In the Census Towns of Damodarpur, Dumari and Majhaulia abutting Muzaffarpur town inBihar, at least 10 to 20 percent houses have thatch roof, and drains are open, says Abhash Kumar. “Land of these erstwhile villages has been sold for middle class residents but most original residents live in slum like conditions,” he added.
On the outskirts of Delhi, Khora is a Census Town in Ghaziabad district where working people live. Its population is 1.9 lakh. Large swathes of this sprawling town are congested with open drains, no piped water and ramshackle houses. Even Greater Noida, an upmarket locality has small clusters of jhuggi-jhopris. Panvel, Navi Mumbai-Raigarh, on the periphery of Mumbai, is similar. But all are out of the reckoning for slum identification.
The census towns are under village panchayats, still get funds from the rural development ministry and state governments are hesitant to turn them into municipalities, says Ram Bhagat, professor at the International Institute of Population Studies, Mumbai.
Pronab Sen, chairman of the National Statistics Commission underlined other flaws in the procedure leading to an “under-count” of slums. In 2010 a committee set up by the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation (MHUPA) under his chairmanship had strongly recommended that the cut-off for counting a belt of dwellings as slum should be 20 not 60-70 households. The Sen committee had projected a slum population of over 9 crore by 2011.