Slum-dwellers and their right to the city
Written by Dr. Shiva Satish Sharda
The Term ‘Right to City’ as presented by Henri Lefebvre in his book Le Droit à la Ville (1968) encompasses the notion of participative presence in the development process and legitimate access to resources of the city; It proposes that individuals, especially the ostracized, not just reserve the privilege to possess a city, but also have the option to configure, reshape and change it. The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III); under the slogan of ‘Right to the City, and Cities for All’ defines “the right of all inhabitants present and future, to occupy, use and produce just, inclusive and sustainable cities, defined as a common good essential to the quality of life.”
Nonetheless, lack of dwelling space, limited access to facilities of treated drinking water, sanitization, health care and education underlines the exacerbated demographic divide.
Constitution of India gives the citizens the right to choose their place of residence, and the right to free movement. However, absence of comprehensive development plan for slums is accelerating a spatial divide. The rapidly increasing interstate migration is adding to this divide. The Economic Survey by Government of India (2017) assessed inter-state migrant population of about 60 million and an inter-district migrant population as high as 80 million, from populated areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar to urbanised and industrialised states.
According to India Housing Report, around 100 million people are living in slums which is more than the population of Australia. According to world charter on Right to City, by 2050, 65% of the world population will reside in urban segments of the planet. This has impacted the social, financial, and civil rights not only of conventionally underprivileged clusters, but also of the moderately advantaged urban inhabitants.
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