Slums form an integral part of the phenomena called urbanization. The word is defined by Census of India.
Since 2001 census, slum demography is being presented by Government of India on the basis of the actual count of population. The systematic delineation of slums for collection of primary data on their population characteristics is perceived as the first of its type in the world.
For the purpose of Census of India, 2001 and 2011, the slum areas broadly constitute of the following three categories:-
- Notified slums: All specified areas in a town or city notified as ‘Slum’ by State/Local Government and Union Territory (UT) Administration under any Act including a ‘Slum Act’.
- Recognized slums: All areas recognized as ‘Slum’ by State/Local Government and UT Administration, Housing and Slum Boards, which may have not been formally notified as slum under any act;
- Identified Slums: A compact area of at least 300 population or about 60-70 households of poorly built congested tenements, in unhygienic environment usually with inadequate infrastructure and lacking in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities.
The 2001 Census attempted to collect detailed demographic data about slum areas across the country in cities and towns having population of 50,000 and above. 2011 Census collected and tabulated Census data for ‘Slums’ in all statutory towns irrespective of population size.
In India, Under Section-3 of the Slum Area Improvement and Clearance Act, 1956, it is specified how slum areas have to be declared. The competent authority may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare such area to be a slum area, upon satisfactory report from any of its officers or other information in its possession that the buildings in any area-
- are in any respect unfit for human habitation; or
- are by reason of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangement and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangement of streets, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities, or any combination of these factors, are detrimental to safety, health or morals.
There are regional differences in the names by which slums are known in India. In Delhi, slums are commonly called ‘Jhuggi – Jhompdi’, whereas in Mumbai they are called ‘Jhopadpatti or Chawls’. Other known names are - ‘Ahatas’ in Kanpur, ‘Bustees’ in Kolkata, ‘Cheris’ in Chennai and ‘Keris’ in Bangalore.
UN Habitat has attempted to define a slum household.
A slum household refers to a group of individuals living under the same roof in an urban area who lack one or more of the following:
- Durable housing of a permanent nature that protects against extreme climate conditions.
- Sufficient living space which means not more than three people sharing the same room.
- Easy access to safe water in sufficient amounts at an affordable price.
- Access to adequate sanitation in the form of a private or public toilet shared by a reasonable number ofpeople.
- Security of tenure that prevents forced evictions.