I was thinking about most visible planning failure in Delhi. Without much overburdening my grey matter I found it to be slums. Then, like any inquisitive fellow I thought about their genesis? Why are the people living these ‘inhuman’ areas? Why cannot we remove them? What could be the solution? Has the solution being even attempted? If yes, why isn’t there any success? This article explore the these questions.
Genesis of the “slum” problem
Delhi is ‘magnet’ for migrants, coming here for job opportunities. As there isn’t any low cost housing available, slums are created. The resultant areas have problem of sanitation, law and order, drinking water, etc. Further, migrants lack credit opportunities(no collateral available) as well as transportation feasibility making the overall disposable income low. Thus social mobility towards remain absent.
But this is not the problem. Yes, it really isn’t.
The real problem is mind-set with which one looks at these fantastic innovative solutions to lack of housing. Further these are blessing in disguise. These areas houses sweeps, water managers, food venders, etc who are essential for the city to function.
The stakeholders who can make difference can be slums dwellers, leaders, planners and administrator. Below I would give a series of steps I think for solving slum problems:
- Firstly, change can only start from within. So the community has to demands its rights. This coupled by a charismatic and visionary leader can do wonders. This is seen in Thailand and Peru.
- Low cost housing society is absolutely essential for the solution. But, this is extremely difficult as the task is set for longer term ~ nearly 25 to 30yrs and the democratic elections have frequency of 4 to 8yrs. Here technology can used which significantly reduces the time lapsed.
- Livelihood is an important issue as it helps in social mobility. Further, slums within itself create a number of jobs. So a housing project of government must involve slum-dwellers to make mobility easier.
- Further multimodal bus systems for easy mobility of the people, which increase the net disposable income to the people, be put in place. This is all the more important for slums on periphery of the city.
- Coming to the planners, they have an extremely important task. They have to develop tier 2 and tier 3 cities, so that they can act counter magnet areas to attract people, to prevent people coming directly to Delhi. The smart city initiative of Indian government is the way out.
- The administration can initiate solving issue at smaller and shorter scale. They can provide for rain water harvesting methods to ensure clean drinking water, establishing sewer lines wherever possible, Mohalla Clinics( on lines of preventive care in Cuba), innovative low cost solution like solar dome for electricity and much more.
Thus slum problem can be solved only by multi-faceted initiatives. The above steps represent simple and yet effective plan to solve the problem. To initiate the step 1, I would like to end with the quote by Mahatma Gandhi-“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Mahatma Gandhi-“Be the change you want to see in the world.”