Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh had once commented that women prefer to have mobile phones than have toilets. With the census board putting out numbers for the “slum census” of 2011, it might be useful to look at penetration of toilets and mobile phones in slums! The data on the website is only state-wise but it suggests that in most states, more slum-dwellers have access to toilets than to mobile phones.
PS: The original post has quoted the Minister incorrectly. This has been remedied.
One thing I have noticed in Bangalore – and I’m not sure if it is true in other cities in India but I have a feeling that it is – is that immigrants inhabit parts of the city which natives wouldn’t really want to live in. I’m making this observation based primarily on one data point – Ejipura.
Till a couple of years back, the only reason I’d heard of this erstwhile slum is because houses there would get flooded every time it rained. Apart from that, it was a fairly nondescript part of Bangalore “somewhere close to the 201 route”, and generally considered an area to be avoided.
And now, slums have been replaced by swanky looking apartments and office buildings, where IT companies and people who work in them have set up tent. What was earlier an unlivable part of the city has suddenly become livable. The roads remain the same though. I don’t know if the houses still get flooded. There are open drains all around. And I have no clue how localities such as this get their water and sewerage supply.
Oh and there is massive dressing up of addresses. It is not Ejipura, it is Koramangala 6th block. Similarly, it is not Byrasandra, it is Jayanagar 1st Block East. And so forth.
I think what has happened is that when the city grew in the first fifty years of independence, farmland in the villages around the pete and cantonment areas was acquired and layouts were planned. The villages themselves were left alone by the BCC/BDA. And people who migrated to the city back then (let’s say at least 20 years back) applied for and got sites in one of these planned localities where they constructed their houses. And so I grew up in this house built on a BDA-allotted site, but up the road from my house was the old Kathriguppe village.
Now, what is happening is that these villages are selling out, to private parties. Knowing the value of the land all around the village (basically in the BDA areas) , people in these villagers have suddenly realized the value of the land that they are sitting on, and are selling to private builders, who either build apartments (most of the cases) or “revenue layouts” (rare). And given that these erstwhile villages haven’t traditionally been considered livable by people living in the city for a long time, they usually end up being occupied by recent immigrants.