I read an extremely interesting fact from the report of the High Level Task Force on Affordable Housing for All. According to the National Sample Survey 58th Round figures, most slum dwellers have been in the city for more than ten years. 39% of households had lived in slums for more than 20 years, and another 37% had lived in slums between 10 to 20 years. Only 24% had migrated in the last decade.
What does this mean for policymakers? Well, even if slum dwellers have access to livelihoods (which they seem to), they are not able to improve their standard of living, because the cost of housing and services in urban areas is out of their reach. As the report says, slum dwellers may not be income poor, but they are housing poor, and amenities poor. The government is now pondering extending the Employment Guarantee Act into urban areas as well, but perhaps funds would be better utilized upgrading existing slums so that residents have better access to basic services like water and sanitation. That’s the same conclusion that The Hindu also recently came to on its editorial page.