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Govt of India report ranks Gujarat No 23 among 25 states in national slum improvement index

By Our Representative
A high-level committee appointed by the Government of India has ranked Gujarat 23rd among 25 states in bringing about improvement in slums. In a report handed over by the committee to the Union housing and poverty alleviation ministry last week, the 16-person committee, which was headed by well-known academic Prof Amitabh Kundu, the report said that Uttarakhand ranked No 1 and Assam last in slum improvement index.
The committee was set up by the Government of India in January 16. The report further says that among the states which are among the top five which have made major improvements in slum development include the so-called Bimaru states like Bihar and Rajasthan and the "rich" Maharashtra. Maharashtra ranks sixth in slum improvement, it suggests.
Providing the first-ever national slum improvement index, the report, in fact, says that Gujarat's slum improvement has worsened over the last one decade.The committee has used the National Sample Survey the Census of India data in order to rank the 25 states.
The report simultaneously ranks 24 cities major, ranking Jaipur as the best, showing the best improvement, and Vadodara, Gujarat's cultural capital, last. While the three main Maharashtra cities -- Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur have been ranked seventh, fifth and sixth, Gujarat;s business capital Ahmedabad ranks 12th.
The ranking, says the report, is based on the "improvement of slums on six broad indicators" -- magnitude of population, availability of amenities, condition of households, possession of assets, social dimensions, and access to banking facilities taking into account 7,550 slums (with 2 lakh households) across 25 states.
In an effort to downplay the ranking, however, the report seeks to suggest that is has been done merely for what it calls "illustrative purpose", as there is still not enough data to rank slum improvement in a comprehensive way. Yet, the report is considered significant, because 6.5 crore population lives in slums in Indian, which 17 per cent of the total urban population.
The report points towards how cities are moving towards "exclusiveness", seeking to "push" slumdwellers outside the city limits. It suggests this is "obvious" from the the population data.Yet, it finds that the urban population growth of India has "remained constant since 1991", the main reason for which is "decline in the natural growth in urban population and sluggish migration from rural to urban areas."
Coming to recommendations, the report asks the Government of India to work out a policy which which would offer slumdwellers "tenure security" and "rehabilitation" rather than eviction, which is a hallmark as of now in order to make cities "look beautiful".
A prominent daily, which carried a news item on the report, has, meanwhile, quoted Government of India officials as saying that it might "use" some of its findings for "effective implementations of the policies and allocation of funds to the states." However, the official was quoted as saying that the data were "inconsistent", and lack of data base is a major reason why it is difficult to effectively implement slum improvement policies.
Due to these slum data inconsistencies, the official has been quoted as saying, India has "not been able to accurately present the country's progress towards the UN Millennium development Goal Target of significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers".

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