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Photo by Kunal Kalra on Unsplash

A slum is an urban colloquial settlement that is unfit for living. The areas, where the slums are located, are quite congested, as they are overcrowded. The conditions of the slum areas in cosmopolitan cities have degenerated to such an extent due to the high density of population that the people there hardly enjoy even the basic amenities. The lanes are narrow and the houses are a single room tenement, the people are deprived of natural resources like sunshine and air.

In these areas hygiene is not maintained, people use common latrines and water taps. Sometimes, 10 to 15 people live in the same room. These areas do not even have single rooms, they are thick clusters of small, shabby mud huts, the roofs and ceilings of which are made of gunny sacks, scraps of wood, metal or other waste material. The streets are narrow and the sewage water stagnates in open surface drains, which leads to bad smell. The children play in places where the drains are used as open latrines.

The rapid spread of the covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) has made social distancing and regular hand washing an important part of one’s life. Though, these measures can be exceptionally difficult to put into practice in these densely populated, informal urban settlements, where overcrowding makes the “two-metre separation rule” almost impossible to uphold. Today, around a billion people, i.e one-eighth of the population live in slums. These housing facilities tend to have inadequate ventilation, drainage and sewerage facilities here; diseases tend to spread easily.

Moreover, being able to practice actions like social distancing is a privilege for the one’s who can afford the space and a work-life that allows it. Many slum residents survive hand-to-mouth, which brings them into close contact with people, and they simply cannot stop working because of the coronavirus pandemic. Dharavi, which is one of the largest slums of Asia, was a Covid-19 hotspot. Most of the inhabitants of the slums can’t be beneficiaries to government schemes. Only a few slums are recognized by Govt. and conditions in unrecognized slums are even worse. The little medical facilities which are available in slums is provided by the NGOs.

Increasing rural to urban migration is another concern. Poor planning of cities, increasing population, high cost of living in urban areas are promoting slum culture. Poverty and lack of job opportunities in rural areas are the push factors of migration. The politicians use these slum inhabitants as their vote banks. They give fake promises of improving the living conditions, this encourages slums. Slum removal and relocation made slum inhabitants homeless and moved them further away from their workplaces. The Government of India has launched ‘National Urban Health Mission‘ to improve the health care facilities for the urban poor. They have allocated budget to replace the crowded slums with 2 crore homes. India has also implemented ‘slum upgrading‘ in a few recognized slums. Some of the strategies have proved to be successful. Slum upgrading has improved slum’s living conditions. Legitimizing slums and improving job opportunities in rural as well as in urban areas and affordable housing in urban areas. Besides improving the living conditions in slums, the causes of slum formation need to be addressed. Express your opinions about slums and the transformation of the slums into better places to live in through the comment section below.

Contributed By- Vishakha Vijay Changedia, Content Writer at Mitti Ke Rang

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