Slums” are the most overlooked part of urban India or any part of the world. But concerning our nation, they host most of our population yet are unanimously ignored.

These areas are, by definition, crowded spaces, usually a part of big cities with questionable sanitary and basic facilities. In other words, they are “socially undesirable”, or at least that’s how the generation categorises them. 

An overview of Slum redevelopment in India - Sheet1
Sanctioned Slum Redevelopment area_

The Cause

The question of, why? Is always asked, and they lead to a zillion versions of its core causes; for instance, some declare it the economy while others remark the ones who are running it, sometimes it lacks enough land, and often are the people inhabiting it or occasionally it just comes down to incompetent urban planning of the city. 

In reality, all the above factors do cater to the cause. They all are the branches of the same tree. Sometimes, the lag between responding to and understanding the challenge often creates this colossal vacuum that destroys the actual change that could decipher the entire slum situation in India.

The question here is often asked regarding the wrong angle, not which one, but which duo or the ones in collaboration. Not just in India, every country faces the challenge of slum establishments as a concrete culmination of various factors.

Urbanisation, the widely accepted root cause, happens when the rate of the urban population overpowers the rate of urban facilities that need to be provided. The rapid increase in population in urban areas also includes the migration of people from rural areas, which creates a huge demand for civic amenities that the city needs to provide. Thus leading to these temporary establishments.

High cost of living happens when the migrated population fails to keep up with the living expenses of the city, such as house rents, education, or even healthcare; thus, they find a loophole and bring in unauthorised houses, which eventually grow into settlements.

Poor House Planning often comes off due to the crossfire between poor politics, poor planning of the city’s infrastructure, and the lack of affordable low-cost housing projects and financial schemes.

An overview of Slum redevelopment in India - Sheet2
Streets of Dharavi_

The steps

The Indian government passed the Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act of 1956 to improve the living conditions in slum areas. The act aimed to provide basic amenities like sanitation, water supply, and electricity to people living in slums and to clear slums that were unfit for human habitation. Under the act, the government was given the power to acquire land and redevelop slum areas. The government could also relocate slum dwellers to new settlements, which were to be provided with basic amenities. The act also provided for the establishment of slum clearance boards in different states to oversee the implementation of the act.

Slum Re-development scheme (SRS) Under the SRS, private developers are encouraged to participate in the redevelopment of slum areas in collaboration with the government and the slum dwellers. The government incentivises private developers to take up slum redevelopment projects, such as extra floor space index and other concessions. In return, the developers must provide free housing to the slum dwellers in the redeveloped areas.

The SRS also provides for the participation of slum dwellers in the planning and implementation of slum redevelopment projects. Slum dwellers are organised into societies or cooperatives, which are given a share in the ownership of the redeveloped properties. This enables them to have a stake in the redevelopment process and to ensure that their needs and concerns are considered.

Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) was a housing scheme launched by the Indian government in 2011 to provide affordable housing to the urban poor. The scheme aimed to create a slum-free India by the year 2022 and to improve the living conditions of the urban poor.

The key objectives of the Rajiv Awas Yojana were to provide secure tenure to slum dwellers, to provide affordable housing to the urban poor, and to create a sustainable and inclusive urban environment. The scheme was implemented by partnering with the central government, state governments, and local bodies.

These are a few schemes and attempts made by the Indian government to eradicate the problem of slum establishments but also consider their redevelopment as it caters to around 21.2% of the total urban population. Though the schemes weren’t entirely successful due to their transparency, implementation, and participation of slum dwellers, they resulted in considerable change concerning the living conditions of the existing slums.

The Challenges

Demand, the government of India still needs more 19 million houses under the economically weaker section (EWS) with income less than 25,000 INR per annum.

Limited Financial Resources, the urban poor still lack the financial aid to buy themselves a stable shelter and the government is still yet to recognise the larger groups due to the higher risks of identity verification and illegal migration.

Overland Development, it is estimated that by 2035 43% of the population will reside in urban areas, and the shortage in land availability will further lead to urban sprawl and corruption in land licensing.

Regulatory Constraints and Litigation, due to the nature of the long documentation process and identity   the development projects in urban areas are subjected to a long waiting process both at the state and central levels. And also, the informal settlements lead to complicated and disputed land rights, further subjecting them to litigation and delays.


To now observe them on a much microscopic scale, the case of Dharavi, Mumbai stands tall. It is a slum establishment covering over 525 acres of land, with an estimated monetary value of around 1.3 billion dollars. It sits at the prime location at the intersection of two major railway lines, inhabiting around 60,000 residents.

It is the largest informal establishment surviving in India that changes the nature of Mumbai as a metropolitan city. It is a prime example of a “thriving microcosm” that yields value to much smaller Indian crafts such as pottery, leather, and native Indian businesses becoming the city’s major financial backbone.

In conclusion, it is important not just to eradicate slums as an establishment but also to acknowledge their importance as the country’s major financial providers and take measures that cater to their redevelopment over re-allocation.

Different sides to the city of Dreams _Dharavi (file photo)

References: l[Accessed 18 March.2023]. [Accessed 18 March.2023].


An undergraduate architecture student who’s determined to study the field of Architectural journalism. An aspiring writer understands spaces as characters personified to form an exemplary world. She perceives architecture as how people commute, communicate and cater with an inanimate aspect bringing out each other’s finest features.