Slum Redevelopment in India – Explained, pointwise

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The Government of Maharashtra has given a go-ahead for the Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project in Mumbai. Dharavi has often been referred to as the ‘largest slum’ in Asia. Slums seem to be an integral part of India’s urban landscape. Slum are symptomatic of several deficiencies like lack of urban planning, lack of capacity of local bodies, uncontrolled urbanization, unchecked migration etc. Slums suffer from several issues like lack of basic amenities, low human development, and often been criticized as breeding ground of crime. India is set to undergo rapid urbanization in the coming decade. Hence it necessary to ensure that the process of urbanization be sustainable circumscribing further expansion of slums and undertaking redevelopment of existing slums.

Definition of Slum Slum Redevelopment UPSC

What are the reasons for the growth of slums in India?

First, Uneven development in different parts of the country leads to migration to few urban centres causing pressure of population on their infrastructure.

Second, Rapid growth of population and poverty force poor people to live in slums leading to their expansion. Scarcity of land amidst rising population and demand forcing people to live in congested communities.

Third, High prices of land and high rent in urban areas creates dearth of affordable housing forcing people to move to slums. Moreover prevalence of black money in the real estate sector inflates prices and rents.

Fourth, lack of urban planning is a major factor in development of slums. City development plans fail to take into account future expansion of cities. Corruption in local bodies lead to delay in development projects related to housing.

Read More: Issues in Urban Planning in India – Explained, pointwise

Fifth, some experts cite lack of political will towards slum redevelopment as slum becomes contesting grounds of politics. Many slum redevelopment projects are caught in politics as being favoring big real estate developers, or encroaching on rights of the poor.

What are the issues associated with Slums?

Inadequate Provision of Necessary Amenities: Slums lack basic amenities like access to clean drinking water, sanitation, waste collection systems, sewerage and electricity. There is also lack of schools and hospitals leading to neglect of both education and health.

Overcrowding and High Density: Overcrowding has been linked to low space per person, high occupancy rates, different families living together, and a lot of one-room units. Most slum units are too crowded, with five to six people or more living, cooking, and sleeping in a single room.

Substandard Housing/Illegal and Inadequate Building Structures: Slum areas have a high number of substandard housing structures (non-compliant with building standards), often built with non-permanent materials unsuitable for housing given local conditions of climate and location. Many structures are unsafe for habitation.

Unhealthy Living Conditions and Hazardous Locations: Lack of basic amenities like clean drinking water, sewerage, waste collection etc. lead to unhealthy and hazardous living conditions. Many slums are adjacent to industrial plants and the residents are exposed to hazardous fumes/chemicals/waste. There is high prevalence of disease, especially malaria/cholera/typhoid.

Insecure Tenure: Slum-dwellers lack ownership title to the land they reside. They are under perennial risk of evacuation including harassment by land-mafia.

Poverty and Social Exclusion: Slums are considered as social exclusion areas that are often perceived to have high levels of crime and other social dislocation measures. They are also associated with illegal migrants, internally displaced persons and ethnic minorities. This also gives rise to vicious cycle of poverty; poverty becomes both reason and outcome of slums.

Vulnerability of Weaker Sections: Slum-dwelling women and children are at a higher risk of falling victim to social ills such as prostitution, beggary and trafficking.

Other Socioeconomic Issues: Issues like high rate of infant mortality, child marriage, and child labour plague the slums. Hunger, malnutrition, and a lack of quality education are also widely prevalent.

What steps have been taken towards Slum Redevelopment and Urban Housing?

The Government has taken several steps for slum redevelopment.

Slum areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act, (1956): The Act is intended to provide for the improvement and clearance of slum areas in certain Union Territories and for the protection of tenants in such areas from eviction. It gives the appropriate authorities the authority to declare any location to be a slum in accordance with the definition, investigate the possibilities of improvement, or eradicate slums.

National Slum Development Programme (NSDP): It was initiated in 1996. It provided both loans and subsidies to States for slum rehabilitation projects on the basis of their urban slum population.

Valmiki Ambedkar Malina Basti Awas Yojana (VAMBAY): It was introduced in 2001. It was focused on shelter for the urban poor, with 20% of total allocation for community sanitation facilities under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) program.

Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP): BSUP was an important component of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). BSUP aimed to provide basic services to urban poor in 63 largest cities in India by population.

Slum Redevelopment Scheme (SRS): It was launched by the Government of Maharashtra in 1995. It allowed the redevelopment of slums through owners, developers, cooperatives or NGOs. In order to attract private developers to underutilized public land, the scheme granted Transferable Development Rights (TDR) and provided Floor Space Index (FSI) incentives for the developers. It also established the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA).

Integrated Housing & Slum Development Programme (IHSDP): It was launched by the Government of India by merging the schemes of NSDP and VAMBAY. Its objective is to provide adequate shelter and basic infrastructure facilities to the slum dwellers in urban areas.

Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP): The Scheme envisages the provision of interest subsidy to economically weak section and Low income groups to enable them to buy or construct houses.

Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY): It was launched in 2013. It was focused on bringing existing slums within the formal system and enabling them to avail of the same level of basic amenities as the rest of the town. It also aimed to tackle the shortages of urban land and housing that kept shelter out of reach of the urban poor.

Smart City Mission: It has its focus on basic amenities, education, health services, IT accessibility, digitization, e-governance, sustainable development, safety, and security.

Housing for all by 2022: Its objective is to construct houses for slum dwellers under the slum- rehabilitation scheme and provide loans at subsidized rates for the economically weaker sections.

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT): Its mission is to provide basic services (e.g. water supply, sewerage, urban transport) to households and build amenities in cities which will improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged.

National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY): It aims to to preserve and holistically develop the heritage cities of India.

What are the challenges in Slum Redevelopment?
Demand side

Unmet Demand: The Government of India reports there is a shortage of about 19 million homes in urban India, 56% of which are from Economically Weaker Section (EWS) households with monthly income less than INR 25,000.

Limited Access to Financial Resources: The urban poor lack the access to formal financial resources to help them purchase new homes or maintain a new life in a new housing unit even when subsidy is provided by the Government under Rehabilitation schemes. Housing Finance Companies are reluctant to serve the urban poor due to perceived risks (lack of data to assess risk of poor clients).

Supply Side

Lack of available urban land: According to UN-HABITAT, 675 million Indians (~43%) will reside in urban areas by 2035. Land is in high demand due to urbanisation. Stringent control over land development generates an artificial urban land shortage, leading to urban sprawl and corruption in land licensing. Lack of transparent land transaction records also add up the search time and costs for developers. Additionally, a lot of non-marketable state-owned entities are located in the heart of cities, further limiting the amount of available land for housing.

Shortage of Land for Slum Redevelopment UPSC


Rising Construction Costs: Over the last decade, construction costs have risen by almost 80%. With rising material and labour costs, private developers may be unable to supply inexpensive housing to the market on their own.

Regulatory Constraints: Development projects in urban areas are subject to a long approval process regarding different aspects from both State and Central level, which brings about postponement in tasks.

Litigation: The nature of informal settlements leads to complicated and disputed land rights, leading to litigation and delays. In addition, entities opposed to redevelopment projects also resort to litigation e.g., a PIL has already been filed against Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Plan, arguing it will impact Mahim Nature Park, a protected area.

Illegal subletting: According to Slum Rehabilitation Agency (SRA), many redeveloped units are illegally subleased. In the long run, this is counterproductive to the goal of creating slum free cities.

Environmental sustainability: There are concerns among urban planners about adding additional housing on an already over-constrained municipal systems. Without investing in adding capacity to existing civic infrastructure for the city, such policies could put undue burden on the city’s civic amenities, in particular, utilities directly provided to households, such water and electricity.

What should be the approach for Slum Redevelopment?

A report by the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) has made several suggestions for sustainable Slum Redevelopment.

Administrative Sustainability: One-size-fit-all model may not work at a pan-India level. There is a need to adjust slum redevelopment models according to the local needs. There is need to  examine demand (growth) and supply (density), as well as financial incentives. Financial incentives, Floor Space Index (FSI) and Transferable Developmental Rights should be customised according to local conditions.

Decentralized Systems: It is associated with decentralised infrastructure for sanitation and energy amenities. Municipalities have typically centralised public services. Slums lack access to essential services due to high investment costs, a lack of resources to meet development and demand, and low-income groups’ refusal to pay taxes and fees. Decentralized systems have the ability to alleviate these challenges since they are more cost efficient.

Financial Sustainability: Giving out free housing to slum households under slum redevelopment scheme (SRS) results in issues of illegal subletting, illegal sales of housing, and people returning to slums. To address this, there should be stringent measures to prevent sub-letting. Financial support should be provided to the poor families in order to pay for the cost of the house.

Micro financing: Scaling up micro-finance is more effective in delivering housing funds for the urban poor.


Ensuring sustainable urbanization should be the top policy priority in the coming decade. Eliminating slums will be a crucial aspect in sustainable urbanization. In this context, focus has to be on prevention of creation of further slums as well as slum redevelopment to develop existing slums.

Syllabus: GS I, Urbanization, their problems and their remedies; GS III, Infrastructure.

Source: Indian Express, Mint,

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