Where did 20 lakh slum dwellers vanish from Mumbai?

According to data in the BMC’s draft development policy, there are 52.07 lakh people living in slums in the city; however, a presentation made in 2012 by former chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan, pegged the figure at 72.70 lakh

Over a period of two years, the city has seen a reduction in slum population by 20 lakh or so can be gleaned if one were to compare two different data sets. According to the BMC’s draft development plan 2014-2034, there are 52.07 lakh slum dwellers in the city, whereas in a presentation made by former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan in 2012, this was quoted as 72.70 lakh.

Mumbai seems to have had a reduction of a mammoth 20 lakh in its slum population, if the BMC is to be believed. File pic for representation
Mumbai seems to have had a reduction of a mammoth 20 lakh in its slum population, if the BMC is to be believed. File pic for representation

What’s more, the former CM has said he obtained his figures from the civic body itself. The civic body recently prepared its DP for the city, in which it envisioned how Mumbai would develop over the next 20 years, starting 2014. The document was passed on Monday evening for publishing and will now be open to the public for suggestions and objections.

As per this DP, slum population in the city stands at 52.07 lakh. As per data attributed to the 2001 national census in the same document, this number was 64.75 lakh.

Where it ‘reduced’
The DP also gives a comparison of the change in slum populations, quoting the two census exercises undertaken in 2011 and 2001. This makes for some startling revelations. Dharavi (G/North municipal ward) saw its slum population decline by 1.35 lakh. Bandra (H/East ward) saw a decrease in those who reside in shanties by 2.16 lakh.

Others like K/East, comprising Marol and Andheri (East), S ward (Bhandup) and N ward (Ghatkopar) also saw declines in slum dwelling populace. Comparing the city as a whole across the two census years, island city has seen a drop of 2.32 lakh, the Western suburbs a reduction of 4.13 lakh and the Eastern suburbs, seemingly, have lost 6.22 lakh slum dwellers.

To lend some perspective to these numbers, the Comptroller and Auditor General, in its 2012 report, had stated that the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in the city had placed a target of building homes for 8.05 lakh slum dwellers but could manage to rehabilitate only 1.27 lakh; a paltry 15 per cent of the total target since 1995.

Authority speak
To get clarity on the data, mid-day contacted former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who had made the presentation in the legislative assembly, in which the slum population was estimated to be 72.70 lakh. Chavan said, “We present the figures provided to us by the BMC.

We normally calculate Mumbai’s slum population to be between 51 to 54 per cent of the total population, and that comes to this number. The new figures are too low; I haven’t seen them yet, but I will have to check them. It also depends on the criteria BMC has used for slums.” Sitaram Kunte, municipal commissioner, who presented the DP draft policy, claimed he, too, would have to verify the data.

“The figures we have presented (in the draft DP policy) are based on the 2011 census. I will have to check the figures that was presented by Chavan earlier to make a proper comment,” he said. Repeated calls to Aseem Gupta, the SRA chief, to ascertain the number of slum dwellers in the city, yielded no response.

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