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Decentralized urban poor rehabilition strategy

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In the run up to Anna Hazare's fast & IAC's drive to the Jan Lok Pal bill one of the key topics that emerged was the kind of politicians & corporators we end up electing. It can be easily proven that this is not a countryside phenomenon and that the BBMP council also has its share of corporators with criminal history or no intention to address civic issues. It is not puzzling also to note that in a relatively high per capita income like Bangalore, pockets of urban poor exist who can be manipulated with promise of basic necessities. The promise in itself is not bad but the fact that they are not delivered is where the questions arise. 

What are the options in addressing the challenges of Urban poor?

Various strategies range from extremes of chasing them out lock stock & barell like was done in New Delhi during CWG to making them permenantly exploited in their squalor providing political fodder. But the general agreement is that this divide can be detrimental to the general quality of life of all sections of the society and more importantly to our human development indices which we need to start including in our "development"

How do we permenantly get this problem sorted out?

Permenant solution is a long term evolution but the immediate solution is to start the process and make it more effective. There have been efforts by BBMP to build housing for the urban poor but they have been in vain because they are either too little or are miused by the "not really poor". One of the solutions that this article addresses very well is the need to decentralize this issue to the ward level where more control over the provisioning can be exerted & also provide examples of civic action to other wards so people are motivated to be a part of the solutions

How does this work?

Ward level handling of the urban poor is akin to little drops making the ocean. If each ward identifies its poor & provides for an inclusive strategy there will be better appreciation & addressal of the issue. If ward level committees were formed and asked to build housing with the help of their corporator the people overall benefit by getting goodwill of the poor in their ward & allows the corporator to get them rehabilitated for good. The expoitation stops & the further influx can be managed by addressing the long term chanllenges as well.

However the long term solution is to make the migration stop by providing connectivity from neighbouring towns via cost effective options like commuter rail which will allow peole to travel to work & still reside in low cost locations.


Many. For a start identifying the urban poor & their classification. Who is urban poor? How many are there in my ward? How are these urban poor distributed by ward? How do I rehabilitate the urban poor in my ward? Who has this data or are collecting it? WHo will be responsible for implementing it at the ward level?

Next steps

Prepare a decentralized urban poor rehabilition strategy report which will set the direction for addressing the challenges for urban poor. The scope will broadly underline this strategy its features, benefits & approach that all stake holders will take. Looking for volunteers to collaborate with other NGO's & Civic agencies to prepare this report. Reply with your comments below & offer to help preparing the report. Templates are available & appropriate guidance in getting data for the report will be made available. 


idontspam's picture

Calling for volunteers &

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Calling for volunteers & views

idontspam's picture

Migration & Commuter rail

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For every well-educated skilled immigrant coming into Bangalore city, about three unskilled andôor illiterate/semi-literate immigrant comes into the city.... the highest number of immigrants are from the neighbouring districts


What more proof do we need for commuter rail as a long term solution to urban poor? Still we want to prioritize flights of fancy over hard practicalities

rackstar's picture

good idea

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It is good idea to rehabiliate urban poor to satellite towns. But they should not be forced to rehabiliate, such a rehabiliation should be voluntary. Bangalore doesnt have big slums like Dharavi which is good for law and order point of view, small slums are scattered around the city. Once the metro starts Yeswantpur, KR puram and city stations will have connectivity other than BMTC. Below is map showing exact location of railway stations of satellite towns, but hourly feeder buses to these stations required in respective towns.

idontspam's picture

 small slums are scattered

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 small slums are scattered around the city

This is why it may be easier to be handled at the ward level by the corporator.

idontspam's picture


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Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had earlier this year said that urban poverty in Karnataka was highest among the southern states.


srinidhi's picture

more complex to classify as poor..

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individuals/communities  living in a slum cannot be simply classified as the 'urban poor'..its far too complex a problem..

..most of the migrants from villages really do not find the quality of life in slums any different from what is in their toilets..small dwellings a slum is not really a slum for our population!

most of the houses in a slum near my place(girinagar) have dth connections and some of them are 'owners' of multiple dwellings which they rent out to others..I would mostly see them as 'urban lazy' and shameless land grabbers..

..and all of them prefer to stay back in slums as it provides them 'privileges' of various types..especially from the local politicians who get the assured votes to win this is to say that these neo slums are electing the politicians and not essentially the general public(many of them dont vote at all)..

Sorry for the rant..but its much bigger problem to really classify urban poor!



idontspam's picture

but its much bigger problem

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but its much bigger problem to really classify urban poor

Valid point, efforts are on in govt circles to do this classification. Apparently biometrics are involved in the identification process, I am not sure of the details.

BBMP is also building better quality housing and moving these people into it in parellel but just not in suficient quantities to make it really effective. Its like how mahadevapura can get qualiy sidewalks while the rest of the town has to make do with shoddy sidewalks. Its targetted at certain locations & not others. Decentralization of initiatives is important. 

However there can be a valid concern on how do you prevent the lower quality of housing from appearing again? It needs to be addressed. 

kbsyed61's picture

Too simplistic!

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The thoughts that have been put in your post and the referenced article suggests that:

  1. Because they are poor, they are gullible and hence will vote blindly?
  2. Because they are poor, their abodes are misfit in our midst?
  3. Because they are poor, illiterate, they do not posses sound intellect to vote the good corporators/legislatures.

These are facts and can't be refuted, but to conclude that the bad governance and the representatives are affect of these urban poor alone is to cover our follies and criminality of the 'urban middle class' and the arrogance of city elites. Nearly 45% did not voted in last elections.

More ever the solutions presented to tackle urban poor also suggests 'touch me not attitude' of the 'urban middle class' and the city elites. Imagine ward corporator taking care of the poor in his constituency. We have seen how well the MPs/MLAs/corprators have taken care of their constituencies.

As usual we are trying to treat the symptom rather than treating the disease. You can blame poverty on illiteracy and illiteracy on poverty. They go hand in hand. What are the basic issues of Urban Poor?

  1. Employment Opportunity to earn a decent living,
  2. Education for their children
  3. Having a roof over their heads

if we want to address and help the urban poor, we need to address these 3 items.

I would like to touch upon the 3rd item in the list that has been talk of this post. Your post and the refrenced article has talked about slums and we all hate slums. Lets take a step back and ask why do they come up in first place.? The urban poor lives in slum because that is the best they can afford. They can not afford anything more than that. There is no scheme from govt or any NGO that offers these poor a relief or help to rent/own a place. Even the so called 'EWS housing' from BDA are cornered by the elite and powerful. There is no law or policy that mandates that any housing development has to build certain number of housings for lower incomes. Imagine the response of the elites if govt had mandated to have certain number of dwellings for 'Very Poor' in RMV Extension,  Koramangalas, Banashankaris etc.

In US, every development has to reserve certain apartments/town homes for economically backward sections which gets allotted by the respective govt/Housing agencies. Then on top of it, the urban poor who could not buy the houses, will get help in getting a subsidized rental accommodation. What it means is the urban poor are helped in all sides so that they do not end up erecting shanties and slums. Still 8-10% are left out homeless.

It is also a case of demand and supply equation. Unless one gets to correct this demand/supply equation and mandated building/putting aside certain numbers for poor, we will continue to have the slums.

I agree with you 100% on migration. if we can't make the villges, towns sustainable for living in terms of employment/education/health, we will continue to have the migration to cities.

I also agree with you on provisions like CRS would help stem the migration from nearby towns and villages.


idontspam's picture


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There is no scheme from govt or any NGO that offers these poor a relief or help to rent/own a place. Even the so called 'EWS housing' from BDA are cornered by the elite and powerful. There is no law or policy that mandates that any housing development has to build certain number of housings for lower incomes. Imagine the response of the elites if govt had mandated to have certain number of dwellings for 'Very Poor' in RMV Extension,  Koramangalas, Banashankaris etc.

This seems to indicate you are in line with the thought of having wards build housing. 

kbsyed61's picture

Entrusting corporators!

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Isn't entrusting corporators to build/provide housing for EWS is too simplistic solution? Isn't that a definite source of discretion and we know how that discretion is used?

idontspam's picture

Shelter fee

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Private developers of residential layouts and apartments may soon have to set aside at least 20 per cent of the gross land for the urban poor or shell out a 'shelter fee' for the purpose of providing housing for the economically weaker sections of society.

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