Govt claims lead in improving slums

Priti Patnaik / New Delhi May 04,2004

Business standard


NGOs increasingly ineffective, says NSS report

Government bodies have been more proactive than NGOs in providing infrastructure facilities in urban slums, according to the National Sample Survey.

The findings of the 58th round of the official survey debunk the myth about the importance of the role of non-governmental organisations in development.

The integrated household survey, conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation for July-December 2002, says 90 per cent of the ‘notified’ slums that experienced improvements in facilities such as roads, water supply, electricity and drainage systems over the past five years attributed it to government action. In the case of non-notified slums, it was over 75 per cent.

A notified slum has been so designated by the local government and tends to receive a higher level of official services.

NGOs were credited with improvement in only five per cent of overall cases.

In more than 20 per cent of the non-notified slums, the residents themselves were responsible for improvements in the last five years.

The results of the survey, however, reflect only the availability and not the adequacy of the facilities available in the slums.

The survey pointed out that conditions were definitely improving in most of the slums. It said the existing facilities had deteriorated in five per cent or less of the notified slums over the past five years. At the same time, facilities had improved in about 50 per cent of the notified slums.

More than 90 per cent of all slums were found to have at least one primary school and 47 per cent a government hospital located less than a kilometre away. Only one per cent of the notified and 16 per cent of the non-notified slums did not have electricity.

With 42 per cent of the surveyed slums having reported an improvement in water supply, a high 93 per cent of them now have either a tap or a tube-well as their main source of drinking water. By contrast, only 15 per cent reported better drainage systems.

Electricity and street lighting improved in 31 per cent of the slums.

The survey found that only one per cent of notified and 16 per cent of non-notified slums did not have electricity connections.

While the government bore the main role in upgrading living conditions, residents have increasingly been taking the initiative of improving their electricity, water supply and drainage systems. Meanwhile, only a few slums reported that an NGO had improved their facilities.

At the end of 2002, there were about 52,000 slums in the country. Nearly 14 per cent (8 million) of urban households lived in these slums.

On average, about 205 households lived in a notified slum, almost twice as many as in a non-notified slum. About 65% of all slums have been built on public land owned mostly by local bodies and state governments.

The NSSO used stratified sampling design at the all-India level to survey a total of 692 slums. The survey was based on interviews with knowledgeable people living in each slum.