Slums refer to makeshift housing or shanties found especially in urban areas, and are characterised by lack of basic facilities, squalor and overcrowding. There is no regular supply of water, electricity or proper sanitation facilities. Slums are generally built on government land that is lying unclaimed or vacant. They are mostly occupied by migrant workers, unskilled labour, domestic workers and other such persons who cannot afford proper housing in the cities. Almost 49% of the total population in Mumbai lives in slums. Hence, its widespread prevalence is unquestionable.l
Conditions in slums
The conditions in slums are deplorable. The settlements are built in small, congested areas, near airports, railway lines and industries, rivers and other water bodies, and markets. The settlements are built with whatever material people there can find be if corrugated sheets or gunny bags or polythene bags. This is not only unhygienic but also creates complications during monsoon when there is flooding during heavy rains.
There is no regular supply of water through pipes. This makes obtaining clean drinking water very difficult. Used and dirty water is not properly disposed off through covered pipes, but is just roughly directed away from the settlements. Since there is no proper sewage or waste disposal system, garbage is accumulated near the slums or thrown into the water bodies in case the slums are near a water body. There are no proper sanitation facilities, and people tend to defecate in public. There is no regulated supply of electricity in slums, making living conditions very poor. In conclusion, the standard of living is extremely poor.
It should be realised by the society and the government that these slum dwellers are also human beings like us. The affluent section of the society must try to alleviate their sufferings. Health, education, proper, housing, electricity, water, sanitation, and jobs are some of the problems of the slum dwellers.poverty is their enemy one. Poverty leads them to indulge in many crimes. They should be provided basic amenities. Free accomodation, subsided rations, health care and education are a must to bring them back to social folds. Some persons do not like to leave slums. They dispose of the free land alloted to them by the state and prefer to move to other shanties. This tendency is to be checked. Precautions can help them change their attitude.
The elementary school classroom in a slum – By Stephen Spender Far far from gusty waves these children’s faces. Like rootless weeds, the hair torn round their pallor: The tall girl with her weighed-down head. The paper seeming Boy, with rat’s eyes. The stunted, unlucky heir Of twisted bones, reciting a father’s gnarled disease, His lesson, from his desk. At back of the dim class One unnoted, sweet and young. His eyes live in a dream, Of squirrel’s game, in tree room, other than this.