President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday called for a “holistic vulnerability-based approach” to address poverty and address the challenges posed by the staggering number of homeless and slum dwellers in the country.

Pointing out that there are an estimated 93 million slum dwellers in our country, with an urban housing shortage of nearly 18 million, Mr. Mukherjee said a holistic approach spanning three key areas - residential, occupational and social - is required to effectively combat poverty.

“As visible signs of systemic inadequacies, slums and homelessness pose considerable challenges for policymakers,” he said while presenting the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) incentive awards to State, Union Territories and Cities at a function in New Delhi.

The President called for increasing the accessibility of the urban poor to formal housing and underlined the need to address their affordability concerns as well. He said the sustainability of poverty alleviation schemes rests on the broader interventions of skills and livelihoods training and creation of self-employment opportunities.

Describing cities as focal points for individual and collective well-being, he said if people residing in cities are bogged down by lack of basic amenities, they would be unable to unleash their full potential; to pursue creative efforts.

“Pro-poor reform measures by governments around the world have resulted in halving extreme poverty between 1990 and 2005. Between 2000 and 2010, nearly 200 million people have been lifted out of slums, out of which, India accounts for thirty per cent. I hope the proactive measures being taken will mitigate this further and enable us to move towards a Slum Free India,” the President said.

Vishakhapatnam, Ahmedabad and Durg received the awards for best cities under Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) and Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (IHSDP) amongst Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in Large States and Union Territories, Sonamura in Tripura and Jiribam in Manipur received awards for being the Best Cities in implementation of IHSDP for ULBs in Small & Special Category States and Union Territories. Thiruvananthapuram and Thane jointly shared awards for Best Community Mobilization efforts under BSUP and IHSDP. Thiruvananthapuram City was also adjudged the Best City for use of Cost Effective Building Technology in construction of Houses under JNNURM.

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