Monday, 11 April 2011

I am tired of this government (Part 3)....

I wrote this piece a year ago, in a very emotional state of mind, when one of the slums was being destroyed without any notice to the residents, leading to the death of two infants. It is not entirely practical, but I thought I should post it here nonetheless.

My take on slums

First, you (the present ruling government) create skewed economic incentives so that a large number of people have to migrate from their rural homes to cities. You take away their farms, their land and leave no means of livelihood for them to survive on. On a parallel track, prices rise sky high, especially for basic necessities, so that any means of livelihood in rural areas become meagre and people must migrate. Then, you go ahead and let slums originate, without any civic amneities, no water or sanitation, no health facilities, and you appease the very slum population by distributing Rs 2000 in cash asking them to vote for you.

And then when you come into power, you are mandated to "clean" the city, and the first thing you can do is pick up a bulldozer and "sweep" off those very slum dwellers that brought you to power. So basically, those people have no value for you now...they are disposable.

If you want to prove otherwise, then take up better policies.
  1. Make sure there are adequate means of livelihood in rural areas. There is a lot of opportunity. Agro-business; solar power; telecom; etc.
  2. Identify some land areas and build low cost vertical four-storey LIG housing on an economic model. Make sure there is community participation while creating sanitation facilities in these buildings. One such building complex would be able to accommodate five small slums and if it is located in a central area, people don't have to travel too much saving on transport demand and costs.
  3. Create multi-utility lanes on roads to accommodate hawkers. Whether you believe it or not, city dwellers (not the multi-millionaires, but the aam aadmi) depend on them much more than they depend on your fancy malls built by the industrialist in whose pockets you reside.
  4. When you ask someone to move, make sure he has an alternative; make sure you give them adequate notice; and make sure you absolutely need to do this.

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