As India's economy takes impressive strides, its urban slum population is also registering an alarming rate of growth and will cross 100 million by 2017 from the estimated 75.2 million in 2001.
The projections are in a report prepared by a government committee headed by Dr Pranob Sen, principal adviser, Planning Commission.
According to the report, India's urban slum population is expected to touch 93.06 million by 2011. The report was formally accepted by the housing and poverty alleviation ministry — the nodal agency dealing with slums — on Friday.
"Such a trend was expected due to increase in urbanisation," said Housing Minister Kumari Selja.
The committee, set up by the ministry to study the slum definition and estimate urban slum population in the country, has also revised the census 2001 figure, which projected India's urban slum population at 52.4 million.
The ministry was of the opinion that the figures did not reflect reality as it covered just the 1,743 cities and towns with a population of more than 20,000 as against the 5,161 cities/towns in the country. The Office of Registrar General, India (RGI) – the agency which conducts the census -- also did not include non-notified slums, thereby keeping a sizable number of slums outside the purview of welfare schemes.
The revision of slum figures, Selja said, would be of great help while implementing the Rajiv Awas Yojana — the government's flagship project to make India slum free.
The Sen committee has also changed the definition of slums for the ongoing census. As per the new definition, even small clusters of 20-25 households living in a contiguous area and exhibiting slum like characteristics —like little or no access to basic civic amenities like water, sanitation and sewerage — should be categorised as slums. Earlier, the cluster size for identification of slums was 60 households.