Slum residents have better access to drinking water and electricity than their counterparts in the urban non slum areas, claims a report on ‘Housing Stock, Amenities and Assets in Slums’ released in the Capital on Thursday.

The report also says the number of slums in the country has declined.

The first-of-its-kind survey, based on Houselisting and Housing Census 2011 conducted by the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, has revealed that slum residents have most basic amenities like drinking water and electricity and even facilities like mobile phones, internet and private vehicles: the only service missing is sanitation.

Sample this. In urban areas only 70.6 per cent people have access to tap (drinking) water whereas in slums this figure is 74 per cent; similarly electricity is a source of lighting in 92.7 per cent (non slum) urban areas and slums come close with 90.5 percent.

“For the purpose of Census, slums were categorised and defined as notified slums, recognised slums and identified slums. For the first time all the 4,041 statutory towns [towns with municipalities] were covered and we found that only 2,542 have slums,” said A.K. Mishra, Secretary, Union Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation.

He said the census had helped the government get an accurate view of the slum numbers in the country, as the percentage of slums in urban areas was earlier assumed to be much higher than what has been revealed in the survey. “Earlier we thought in towns like Mumbai half of the population lives in slums, but now we know the figure is close to 40 per cent,” he said, adding: “In million plus cities, we thought there is a large concentration of slums, but now we know it is a manageable 38 per cent.”

The total Slum Enumeration Blocks (SEBs) in Census 2011 is about 1.08 lakh , with Maharashtra leading the number of slum dwellings at 21,359. As against 789 lakh households in the urban areas, the total number of households that live in slums is 137 lakh, the survey revealed.

A.P. tops the list

In 46 cities with a million plus population there are 38 per cent slum households: Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of slum households (35.7 per cent) followed by Chhattisgarh (31.9 per cent), Madhya Pradesh(28.3 per cent), Odisha (23.1 per cent) and West Bengal (21.9 per cent) while Delhi has just 14.6 per cent slum area. Kerala has the least number of slums (1.5 per cent).

Union Minister for HUPA Ajay Maken said though the number of slum households has come down from 23.5 per cent in 2001 to 17.4 per cent in 2011, there are still a large number of people — 68 million — who continue to live in slums.

Mr. Maken said : “The Ministry will not have any distinction between notified, recognized and identified slums while providing financial assistance to the States under the Rajiv Awaas Yojana ( RAY) Scheme. This is being done with the objective of bringing improvements in slums. Any identified slum in any city will be given money under RAY.”

A committee will also be set up for suggesting how to prepare a slum upgrading index for all cities, Mr. Maken said.