Friday, August 19th, 2022 12:47:24

Multidimensional Poverty In Pune

Updated: April 4, 2015 4:48 pm

With income as the only indicator, an absurd 5% of Pune’s population would be classified as poor. But the Pune Municipal Corporation itself accepts that 40% of the city lives in multidimensional poverty, suffering residential, occupational and social vulnerabilities. While Pune’s poor have relatively higher levels of access to public services than the poor in other cities, a closer look reveals the extent of their vulnerability

A fairly simple and popular way to define poverty is to use monetary indicators and proxies linked to estimates of income and consumption. The value of a basket of goods essential for daily living can be used as a monetary indicator. The ‘poor’ can be defined as those who do not earn enough to purchase the basket, or whose expenditure is less than the value of the basket. The percentage of people who cannot afford the basket of basic goods is called the ‘poverty rate’ of a given population.

Accordingly, in India, formal ‘head count’ of the poor uses the average, minimum daily calorie requirements per person, estimated in 1979 by a government-appointed taskforce as 2,400 calories in rural and 2,100 calories in urban India. The monetary equivalent of these requirements, or the poverty line, is based on the 28th Round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) for 1973-74. It was found that, on an average, at 1973-74 prices, consumer expenditure of Rs 49 per capita per month was associated with intake of 2,400 calories per day in rural areas and Rs 57 per capita per month with intake of 2,100 calories per day in urban areas. Poverty lines were then estimated for each state, using state-specific prices. Over the years, the poverty lines have been updated by adjusting for inflation.

Whatever purpose it may serve, this method does not account for the causes, dimensions, dynamics and relativity of poverty. It does not help us understand rural-urban, regional, gender, and social differences among the poor and non-poor.

In the urban context, the dimensions not captured by this method include vulnerability to fluctuations in income, vulnerability to health hazards due to crowded living conditions in urban slums, and lack of tenure security (right to occupy a dwelling site). Other dimensions not captured include access to basic services such as water, sewage, health and education, and safety nets to tide over crises.

There are also serious objections to the validity of data: the findings are said to be gross under-estimates as realistic adjustments have not been made for the extra costs of urban living—the higher expenditure incurred by urban households on housing, transport, and the fact that they cannot generally grow their own food.

Without all these adjustments, plainly absurd poverty rates can emerge. This is clearly seen in the case of Pune (excluding areas falling under the twin-city Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation). Using the 2004-05 all-India official poverty line of Rs 538.60 per person per month for urban areas (for minimum intake of 2,100 calories per person per day), the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) set Rs 591 as the poverty line for Pune in 2005, and thereby, through a survey of the city’s slum population, estimated that only 10,800 households in the city, constituting less than 5% of the total population, were below the poverty line (BPL). The figure, which has not been updated or modified, is not taken seriously by anyone—not even by the PMC, though it uses the list of 10,800 households to provide them some social welfare benefits.

The data that emerges from these efforts has limited use in locating the poor across and in cities.

Location of the poor is possible through BPL surveys conducted by state governments. The surveys identify eligible beneficiaries for poverty-alleviation programmes, using multiple indicators of deprivation. However, BPL surveys have been conducted across the country only in rural areas.

A third source of official data on the urban poor is Census of India surveys of urban slums. Strictly speaking, these cannot be used to estimate the number and location of urban poor, as everybody who lives in a slum is not ‘poor’ in the conventional sense: many slum-dwellers own assets like TV sets and motorcycles, which are not generally associated with the notion of poverty. Further, an exclusive focus on slums leads to exclusion of persons who do not live in slums but nevertheless face considerable deprivation or vulnerability, which are key criteria for identifying the poor.

That apart, the available census data on slums is of little use. According to Census 2001 data, only 15% of the country’s total urban population lived in slums. This patently gross under-estimate arose from the fact that the slum population data (collected through the census for the first time) was gathered only from ‘notified’ slums with at least 60 households, in cities and towns with a population of 50,000 or more persons in 1991. As a result, no slums were ‘found’ in over 100 cities/towns, and the percentage of slum population reported from many cities was plainly absurd: in Patna, for example, it was only 0.3% of the total population.

An expert group constituted by the Planning Commission in 2010, under S R Hashim, recommended a vulnerability-based identification of the urban poor. Rather than looking at only indicators of income, the committee said that vulnerabilities in three broad categories should be looked at: residential, occupational, and social. Recommended indicators of residential vulnerability included (in decreasing order of ranking): having no home, living in kutcha/temporary houses, and facing insecurity of tenure along with absence of civic services. Indicators of occupational vulnerability included: access to social security, susceptibility to significant periods of unemployment, susceptibility to informal/casual occupations with uncertain earnings, employment subject to unsanitary, unhealthy and hazardous work conditions, etc. Suggested indicators of social vulnerability included gender and age of the head of the household, disability and/or chronic illness, education status, and disabilities arising from religious and caste status.

The committee’s recommendations formed the basis of the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011. Till the date of writing this article, however, even draft SECC data for Maharashtra and several other states was not available.

Slum populations in Pune

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) uses a common Marathi term to describe a slum: galicha vasti (‘filthy settlement’). While the term richly evokes brahmanical revulsion towards ‘filth’ and condemnation of people associated with ‘filth’, it does not help us identify and understand slums. Parts of many slums in the city are by no standards filthy, while quite a few housing societies of middle-class families are poorly maintained and dirty.

A more useful definition of a slum can be obtained from the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971, which states that a “slum area” is one that “is or may be a source of danger to the health, safety or convenience of the public of that area or of its neighbourhood, by reason of the area having inadequate or no basic amenities, or being insanitary, squalid, overcrowded or otherwise”; and one in which buildings used for human habitation are “unfit” for this purpose, on account of dilapidation, overcrowding, “faulty arrangement and design of such building”, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities, or any combination of these factors, which is “detrimental to the health, safety or convenience of the public of that area”.

Another definition of a slum is used by the NSSO: a slum is a “compact settlement with a collection of poorly-built tenements, mostly of temporary nature, crowded together usually with inadequate sanitary and drinking water facilities in unhygienic conditions”.

The UN-Habitat defined a slum as a contiguous settlement where inhabitants have inadequate housing and basic services. Characteristic features of slums are:

  • Inadequate access to safe water.
  • Inadequate access to sanitation and infrastructure.
  • Poor structural quality of housing.
  • Insecure residential status.

Using these definitions, particularly the last, one can calculate the number of slums in the city, and the number of households and persons living in slums. However, in the case of Pune, and probably all other Indian cities, we have no up-to-date and reliable data on slums or slum populations. What we have is different sets of questionable data:

  • According to Census 2001, Pune had a slum population of 0.49 million people, constituting 19.39% of the total population (2.53 million). Enumeration of slum population was limited to slums having a population of at least 300 persons living in “poorly built, congested tenements”, and as such the data does not give us total slum population.
  • Using unspecified internal sources of data, the PMC has been routinely saying that around 40% of the population of the city lives in slums. For example, without giving any source of data, the PMC’s revised City Development Plan (CDP) for JNNURM funding (May 2012) stated that the city’s slum population in 2001 was 1.1-1.2 million, or more than twice the Census 2001 figure, and using that figure, the CDP estimated that the city’s slum population was “approximately 40%” of the total population in 2012. The CDP stated that there were 564 slums in the city, of which 353 were notified, and the remaining 211 were not. However, this data is also suspect as according to the PMC’s draft Development Plan (DP) for 2007-27, this was the number of notified and non-notified slums in 2009—there would surely have been an increase in the number of non-notified slums since that year (the PMC stopped notifying slums in 2001).

Households (HHs) living in slums have no legal rights over the land they occupy. Nevertheless, 80-90% of households in Pune’s slums have built the house they occupy. Other households occupy rented tenements. In 2009-10, the average monthly rent paid by these households was reported to be Rs 1,000 (CHF International-Mashal report, Socio-Economic Profile of Slums in Pune, 2011).

Apart from expenditure incurred on construction and subsequently repairs and renovation, many households owning houses in slums have incurred expenditure for securing occupancy “rights”: they have paid some amount to the local goon or “slum lord”, who “developed” the slum and granted them the “right” to occupy a specific plot of land. Survey data on these amounts, and amounts that have to be paid to sell the “occupancy rights” are not available. However, some data on market rates for sale of slum houses is available, which shows that the rates are determined by the cost of land in different areas, and the cost of acquiring a pucca house of only 12 sq m in a notified and well-serviced slum in 2007 was over Rs 180,000, and could go up to Rs 350,000.

Access to basic services

Access to basic services such as health and education determines the vulnerability level of households. If poor households have access to affordable or free health and education services of good quality, they could, despite their low income, substantially reduce their vulnerability and improve their prospects for a better life.

Both non-slum and slum populations in Pune appear to have assured access to safe drinking water. However, CHF-Mashal 2011 data shows that the percentage of slum households with personal water connections varies from 0% to 98% across different slums. There are around 40 slums in which over 70% of households are dependent on public water taps.

‘That’s all we want’

“We want drains to be cleaned every eight days. (Public) toilets should be cleaned regularly. Wherever people are facing a water problem, they should be served. Widows should be given pensions. That’s all we want.”

—Woman participant in CCDS FGD

Most of Pune’s slum households have access to public toilets (free or paid). However, they are lacking both in quantity as well as quality. The PMC’s sanitation department estimated in 2012 that around 24,000 households (or over 100,000 persons) in the city do not have a toilet within walking distance. Further, as field group discussions (FGDs) conducted for this report revealed, many toilets are not safe or usable: they are used as meeting places by criminals, do not have adequate water, or do not have electricity. As a result, at least 8,000-9,000 persons in the city defecate in the open daily, using over 100 defecation “spots”.

A 2008 study on the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) status in 256 PMC-run schools, which mostly draw students from low-income households, showed:

  • Three schools had no toilets.
  • 40% of schools had no separate toilets for girls, boys and staff.
  • 16% of schools did not have water in the toilets.
  • No school had soap for washing hands after using the toilet.
  • Only 11% of schools had child-friendly toilets.
  • 50% of schools had toilets with damaged doors requiring repair.

According to PMC data, all private, community, public, pay-and-use and group toilets in the city are connected to an underground sewerage system. Septic tanks have also been connected to the sewerage network. Over 90% of slum households also have access to drainage lines/gutters that carry away household liquid waste (CHF-Mashal 2011).

For collection of solid waste, the PMC has introduced a system of segregating and collecting waste door-to-door, and then transporting it through trucks. In 2012, the door-to-door collection system is estimated to have covered 52% of all households in the city, with the rest using neighbourhood bins. CHF-Mashal data however indicates that around 20% of slum households simply throw solid waste onto available open spaces and there are around 35 slums where over three-fourths of households dump garbage out in the open.

Only around 50% of the city is covered by closed drains that carry away rainwater. Thus, around half the city is prone to waterlogging during the monsoons. Worst hit are slums on hill slopes, along rivers, and in low-lying areas.

Access to health facilities

As in other urban areas of India, the people of Pune, including the poor, are dependent on private health facilities. Data for 2008-09 indicates that of the 10,000 hospital beds available in the city, over 85% were in private hospitals, 11% were in the state government’s public hospital and only 6% were in PMC hospitals. Thus, according to both International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) 2011 and CHF-Mashal 2011 data, only around 21% of slum households use the services of government or PMC hospitals. According to PMC data for 2013-14, only 6,000-7,000 pregnant women avail of free pre-delivery, delivery and post-delivery services at its hospitals every year. The most common reason for not using government/PMC health services, reported by over 43% of slum households, was that there was no such facility nearby; 27% of households also said that the waiting period at government/PMC hospitals was too long (IIPS 2011); during FGDs conducted for this report, women participants linked poor service in public hospitals to class prejudice. Despite high dependence on private health services, less than 5% of slum households have medical insurance (CHF-Mashal 2011).

‘Go to a private hospital’

“When we tell staff in government hospitals to cater to us promptly, they say: ‘This is a government hospital… not private. If you have money why don’t you go to a private hospital?’”

—Woman participant in CCDS FGD

IIPS 2011 data indicates that under key parameters like availability of essential infrastructure and equipment, government and municipal hospitals in Pune are as good as or better than private hospitals. However, the former are poorly stocked with some basic drugs like ORS packets.

IIPS 2011 data indicates that there is not much difference between slum and non-slum households on utilisation of reproductive and child health services. In fact, slum households report higher use of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), including supplementary nutrition, immunisation, health check-ups and health counselling. But coverage of these services is low, with only one-fifth of eligible women living in slums getting supplementary nutrition and counselling.

Access to subsidised school education

Subsidised school education is available at government and municipal schools, government-aided private schools and, to some extent, from unaided private schools which have to reserve some seats for students from economically weaker sections of society under the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009. Data for 2008 (before RTE came into force) indicates that the largest proportion (44%) of all school-going children in Pune were in private-aided schools, where parents have to spend money on uniforms, books, supplementary fees, etc. Only 26% of children were in municipal or government schools which, theoretically, do not require parents to spend any money on their children’s education.

While it would be expected that most children from low-income households would go to PMC schools, 2008-09 data on nearly 2,000 school-going children from five slums showed that only 57% were going to PMC schools; in two slums, less than 40% of the children were going to PMC schools. The main reason was that there were not enough PMC schools near the slums.

Further, only around 10% of parents of school-going children in the five slum areas reported that they were spending nothing on school education; nearly 50% of parents reported spending up to Rs 1,000 a year on uniforms, notebooks, etc, and nearly 10% reported spending over Rs 5,000 a year.

Access to subsidised food

CHF-Mashal 2011 data indicates that 90% of slum households in Pune have ration cards and 6% have two or more ration cards. Nearly 15% of households have a yellow ration card which entitles them to foodgrain at the rate of Rs 5-6 per kg; nearly 70% have an orange ration card which entitles them to foodgrain at a 50% higher rate. FGDs conducted as part of this study however revealed widespread dissatisfaction with time that required to procure commodities from ration shops, and the quantity and quality of commodities. Most FGD participants said they had to spend several hours getting their rations; some stood in queues at dawn, though the shops open only at 10 am. Many participants said they were forced to buy kerosene from the black market as the PDS allotment was inadequate. Large-scale data is not available on the average amount spent by slum households on subsidised and non-subsidised foodgrain to meet their monthly consumption needs.

‘We get nothing if we go late’

“If we do not have money, and we go to the ration shop two-three days after the monthly stock has come, we should get our allotment but we get nothing… after it’s already sold in black, what will we get?”

—Woman participant, CCDS FGD

Cooked food and nutritional supplements are directly given to children through the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme and ICDS centres. According to PMC data for 2012-13, 70,000 school-going children in the city are covered by the MDM scheme, and only 12,000 children are given nutritional supplements through ICDS centres.

Access to finance and social welfare schemes

As only 30% of slum households have at least one member with salaried employment, easy access to low-cost finance is a critical requirement for slum households, for starting or expanding a business, or investing in better housing. However, while around 12,000 self-help groups have been promoted and/or supported by the PMC, only 11% of slum households have used SHGs to access finance (CHF-Mashal 2011).

The PMC runs a plethora of social welfare schemes, funded by the central or state governments, or through its own finances, for the benefit of school students, women, women’s self-help groups, people from backward classes and persons with disability. With total expenditure on all these schemes less than 1% of the PMC’s annual budget, and the total number of beneficiaries less than 70,000 (half that, if student beneficiaries are excluded), the reach of the schemes appears to be scattered, and the monetary or other value of benefit and purpose served is not clear. No social audit of the schemes or beneficiaries has been done; it is unclear whether most vulnerable persons like widows and the aged living without family support have been targeted. FGDs conducted in a few slums for this report revealed that none of the women participants knew the name of the social welfare schemes run through the PMC’s Urban Community Development (UCD) department, though some participants were aware of self-help groups formed or trained by UCD staff.

Grievance redressal

The PMC does not yet have an e-governance system, and follows the traditional system for dealing with complaints about basic services. Its website provides a complicated form for registering complaints only in English; the corporation does not have a 24-hour helpline or even an emergency number in case of disasters .

A “service demand and performance survey” undertaken by the PMC in February 2006, covering a stratified sample of 2,523 “general citizens” and 1,196 “slum-dwellers” showed that:

  • Only 16% of general citizens and 11% of slum-dwellers reported that they knew where to complain about a basic service.
  • Only 14% of general citizens and 10% of slum-dwellers had ever registered a complaint with the PMC directly.


Do we have only this work?’

“They (staff of PMC sewerage and water supply department) talk back to us. They roam around smartly dressed, wearing jeans, with cellphones held to their ears. When we approach them, they say: ‘Do we have only this work (your complaint to resolve)? We have a thousand pending things to do’.”

—Woman participant, CCDS FGD

So in slums, the general mode of registering a complaint is to approach corporators or their aides; FGDs revealed that attempts to get complaints addressed directly are generally unsuccessful. Complaints about broken toilets, choked drains and flooding in particular remain unaddressed for weeks.



‘Our foreheads are bruised’

“Sometimes I think we should leave this place and go somewhere far away… our foreheads are bruised, falling repeatedly at the feet of these people (staff of sewerage department).”

—Woman participant, CCDS FGD

Access to affordable housing

In-situ redevelopment with existing horizontal density

In-situ slum redevelopment, with existing horizontal density, has been tried out in Pune.

Funding from the Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) component of JNNURM is leveraged to encourage slum-dwellers to pay 10% of the cost involved in converting their kutcha homes into pucca homes of a minimum size; the rest of the cost is borne by the central government, through BSUP (50% of cost), the state government (30%) and the municipal corporation (10%). No BSUP funding is provided for acquiring land, so the option can be used only to re-develop slums on lands owned by the municipal corporation.

The PMC has used BSUP funding to enable in-situ re-construction of 4,000 houses in two large slums of Pune. It roped in four NGOs to mobilise slum-dwellers, get their participation, and plan and monitor construction of houses according to specifications. A little over 2,000 slum houses were reconstructed by March 31, 2104.

A visit to one of the sites of in-situ reconstruction (Yerwada) showed that:

  • The reconstruction was initiated in a slum that is already well serviced, and where a majority of the houses were already pucca structures.
  • The scheme was offered only to families occupying more than 10 sq m of land.
  • The benefits of the scheme were offered only for construction of a pucca house of 27 sq m, which was built at a cost of Rs 300,000, with 10% (Rs 30,000) beneficiary contribution. (If households wanted larger houses, they had to pay for the extra cost of construction.) Some eligible households did not participate in the scheme either because the beneficiary contribution, payable in three instalments, was out of their reach, or they could not afford to take a house on rent in the same area while their own house was being reconstructed.
  • The minimum size requirement led to scattered reconstruction, and construction of strange and mixed structures. For example, if a family occupied a ground floor structure of 12 sq m, it had to opt for a three-storeyed structure on the same amount of land. Space required to provide access to upper storeys has reduced the already small floor areas in houses, and reduced ventilation.
  • Houses were built in isolation, without considering minimum space requirements for light, ventilation and easy movement of people through public areas. Construction of multi-storeyed houses along narrow pathways has reduced previously available light and ventilation.
  • Construction of additional floors in individual houses allows for an increase in existing population density without allowing for optimum utilisation of total land available in the slum.
  • Most importantly, from the point of view of beneficiaries, the reconstruction has not been supported by security of tenure. While they pay property tax, households have no legal title to the land they occupy.

In-situ redevelopment with vertical density

In Pune, a project for in-situ redevelopment of a slum with vertical density, through high-rise buildings, was first rolled out in the early-1980s. A developer made a deal with a private landowner whose plot of around 2,000 sq m was occupied by a slum with around 35 families. While the developer got the land—which the owner could not use—for less than the market price, he offered to build for the slum-dwellers, free of cost, a four-storey building with tenements of approximately 17 sq m, with independent water connections and shared toilets. This building was built on an area of 800 sq m. On the rest of the land, the developer built and sold 13 large apartments, using floor space index (FSI) relaxations available for “economically weaker section” (EWS) housing schemes.

Despite the success of this project, the state government and PMC did not take any initiative to replicate it, until 1991 when a Slum Redevelopment (SRD) scheme was announced in Mumbai. It gave developers a higher FSI of 2.5 in notified slums. Developers had to construct tenements of 18 sq m each in multi-storeyed buildings, for families in a slum, and use the land that would be freed up to construct and sell residential or commercial properties at market rates. Developers were not obliged to give the 18 sq m tenements to slum-dwellers free of cost but it was obvious that these tenements would have to be heavily cross-subsidised, otherwise the slum-dwellers would simply not agree to move out of their existing homes. A similar scheme was announced in Pune in 1994, but it found few takers.

In 1995, the state government made slum redevelopment (SRD) more attractive by introducing the concept of transfer of development rights (TDR): the difference, if any, between total built-up area at an SRD site (area taken up by tenements built for re-housing slum-dwellers + area taken up by commercial properties built at the site) and the total built area available through FSI of 2.5 could be “transferred” by the developer to a construction site in another part of the city. The developer could use the extra development rights himself, or he could sell them.

Despite this incentive, the scheme did not attract many developers. In 2004, changes were made in the scheme to make it more attractive to all stakeholders, and, in 2005, the state government appointed a Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) for Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad to monitor the revised SRD scheme. In 2008, and then again in 2011, the Pune SRA revised the rules and regulations. Currently, the main rules and conditions are as follows:

  • SRD schemes can be proposed even for slums on lands reserved for non-residential purposes, on condition that 33-40% of the land that becomes available is set aside for the original purpose of reservation.
  • FSI available to developers at a slum site is 3, and can go up to 4 if density of tenements in the slum is higher than 650 structures in a hectare (10,000 sq m). The difference between maximum area available for construction in a slum site (with an FSI of 3 or 4), and area actually built for re-housing + area built for sale at the slum site, is available to the developer as TDR.
  • Each eligible family living in the slum has to be given, free of cost, a residential tenement of 25 sq m carpet area, including a balcony, bath and water closet cubicle.
  • Only families living in the slum before January 1, 1995, are eligible for free tenements.
  • At least 70% of eligible families have to give written consent for the scheme. Eligible families that do not agree to participate in the scheme will be forcibly evicted from the slum site.
  • During the period of construction, eligible families must be allowed to live in the slum site, or they have to be given transit accommodation within 2 km of the site.
  • Buildings for re-housing slum-dwellers have to be constructed according to designs and specifications approved by the SRA. Specifications include the provision of cooking space in each tenement, lifts and parking space in each building. In sites larger than 10,000 sq m, rooms for a kindergarten and other purposes have to be built.
  • Female-headed households and families that have physically handicapped persons are to be given first preference in the allotment of tenements. Others are to be allotted tenements by publicly drawing lots.
  • For a period of 10 years, households cannot sell or rent the tenements they have got free. After 10 years, they can sell their tenements at market rates, after paying transfer charges to the SRA. Transfer to legal heirs is permitted.

Data made available by the Pune SRA shows that 166 proposals concerning nearly 56,000 slum-dwelling households were submitted by developers till January 2013, but barely 25% of the proposals made progress on the ground, with around 10% reaching completion stage. Around 40% of proposals were either at a preliminary stage, or were being processed. Nearly 30% of proposals were affected by litigation, with landowners securing stay orders before or after the framing of the SRD scheme.

Till January 2013, less than 1,200 households living in slums had got new SRD tenements, and tenements meant for 7,700 households were in different stages of construction.

That is, in over 10 years of operations of the Pune SRA, less than 10,000 slum-dwelling households—less than 5% of all slum-dwelling households in the city—could be considered beneficiaries.

Plans for affordable housing for all slum-dwellers

The PMC’s draft Development Plan (DP) for 2007-27 talks about making the city “slum-free”. However, other than providing scanty and rough data, the DP does not elaborate on how this ambitious goal can be met. Neither the DP nor the City Development Plan (CDP) for JNNURM funding has the data required to make a realistic plan for a slum-free city, such as:

  • An updated list of notified and non-notified slums, with details of ownership status of land, number of current houses and residents, level of infrastructure and level of housing; and with identification of “tenable”, “semi-tenable” and “untenable” slums (located on residential lands, located on non-residential lands, and located on environmentally vulnerable lands).
  • A ward-wise inventory of vacant lands available for the construction of houses.
  • Prevailing land values in areas surrounding slums.

On the basis of the above, it would be possible to choose, for each slum in the city, one of the following options:

  • Slum improvement: extending infrastructure in slums where most residents have already invested in better housing.
  • Slum upgradation: extending infrastructure and facilitating construction of better housing in slums where housing is generally of a poor status.
  • Slum redevelopment: in-situ redevelopment of the entire slum after demolishing existing structures, at locations where prevailing land prices would draw the interest of private developers.
  • Slum resettlement: relocation of untenable slums to alternative sites.

It would then also be possible to assess the investment requirements for each slum, taking into consideration cost of land, construction, and physical and social infrastructure.

On the basis of total cost, financing options can be considered and criteria for determining beneficiary contribution fixed.

Without such an exercise, the Pune DP vaguely talks about how the housing needs of the poor could be met through SRA and BSUP schemes. To deal with future demand, reservation of land for EWS housing has been proposed. Remarkably, there is no discussion on how SRA and BSUP schemes have fared so far, and what has happened in the past and continues to happen to reservations made in the DP for EWS housing. In relation to the last point, the following facts are important:

  • In Pune’s first DP, for the period 1966-76, which was finalised by the state government in 1987, nearly 75% of sites reserved for EWS housing were de-reserved. The decisions were made without inviting suggestions and objections from citizens.
  • Rejecting a legal challenge to these de-reservations, the Bombay High Court (Sawant and Kantharia J J, July 18, 1988) ruled that it was not within the jurisdiction of the city planning authority to reserve plots for “residence of a particular section of society”—there was no need to reserve land for EWS housing.
  • During 1966-76, the PMC acquired only 4% of the land earmarked in the first DP for public purposes.

Even after the DP was finalised and became a statutory document, the state government made several changes: between 1987 and 2001 reservation of 29 sites to be used for public purposes was deleted; 15 of these sites had been reserved for EWS housing. It must also be noted that in all slum improvement, upgradation, redevelopment or resettlement schemes carried out so far, beneficiaries have not received security of tenure. There is no central or state government policy on this vital issue and the courts are not inclined to press for such a policy; reflecting the opinion of many non-slum residents, a judge of the Bombay High Court observed that “public lands and government lands are not properties to be gifted away by the government to grabbers and encroachers”.

In these circumstances, far from preparing a platform for a slum-free city the DP exercise serves only to “foster real-estate interests at the cost of access to even basic necessities of healthy living conditions for the low-income population”.

(Infochange—The report has been written by Ashok Gopal, an independent journalist and researcher based in Pune, with inputs from Anosh Malekar and CCDS’s senior researchers Anjula Srivastava and Swati Shinde.)

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