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SOLUTION TO SLUMS

Slums are not huts and tenements, but are occupied by people with a diverse background and psyche, complex social network, and a segregated spatial structure.

India does need to provide the urban poor with better sanitation, public health, education and a pollution less environment. But, we need to rethink on the framework of our interventions:
First, advocates of slum redevelopment should recognise that they are not just dealing with a housing problem but are tampering with a complex eco-system. Thus, plans need to allow for informal commercial activities, public transport, and so on. To the extent possible, the redevelopment projects should be phased in a way that the ecosystems are not killed in the name of progress.

Second, we need to understand that slums are about ease of entry, upward mobility and churn. This process should not be disturbed by indiscriminately handing out non-marketable property rights. Instead, public intervention should encourage a market for rental accommodation starting from basic dormitories. However, when it is deemed appropriate to give property titles to slum-dwellers, the rights should be marketable.

Finally, and very importantly, we should not expect slums in the largest cities to act as routers for all the hundreds of millions of migrants. This is why we need to think of the small mofussil towns as mini-routers for the regional job markets. We need to revive small towns as social and economic hubs.

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