A fifth of Bangalore's population lives in slums

April 28, 2007 12:00 am | Updated September 28, 2016 09:11 pm IST

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Slum dwellers and residents of poor neighbourhoods in Bangalore are at life's receiving end, whether from the recent downpour that left their homes and belongings under filthy water and garbage or from chief ministerial promises made after the disaster and forgotten till the next crisis hits.

A recent study on urban poverty, "Slums and Urban Welfare in Karnataka's Development" by Supriya Roy Chowdhury of the Institute of Socio-Economic Change in Bangalore has some interesting findings on why the numbers of the poor are increasing and why the development agenda of the State Government does not address this issue.

Despite being the third largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) and the only State in the country to experience a growth rate of more than 8 per cent in the second half of the 1990s, Karnataka has seen growing unemployment in the same period with the addition of large numbers to the unorganised work force and deepening urban poverty, the study notes.

Organised sector employment has only increased marginally from 700.9 lakh in 1995-96 to 758 lakh in 2001-02 in the private sector and from 1058.4 to 1110 lakh over the same period in the public sector.

A major factor that contributed to this was that 10,000 industrial workers had to take compulsory VRS (voluntary retirement scheme) after the Public Sector Restructuring Committee set up in 2001 selected 39 State enterprises for privatisation.

This process has increased the number of urban poor. The urban population below the poverty line in the State was 40.14 in 1993-94 as against 32.36 for the rest of India.

Twenty per cent of the city's population or around 2.2 million people live in slums, the study notes. The 2001 census lists 733 slums in Bangalore.

The decade of the 1990s has seen an "exponential growth" of slums, according to the study that has focussed on two Bangalore slums, Saktivelnagar and the NGEF slum.

Local activist groups have been somewhat successful in forcing the Government to address issues of housing and other basic amenities. Nevertheless, for slum residents, government housing projects invariably end up in merely "putting a roof over their poverty", the study says.

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