The ability to identify internal issues affecting a slum area forms the basis for devising effective development and environmental models. Over the years, the growth of slums in many nations across the world has turned out to be a major problem that is strongly rooted in leadership, institutions and administrative structures. In New Delhi, there is a population of up to 18 million.
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However, about 52% of its total population lives in slums (Heikens 2009, p. 281). Reports from the World Bank indicate that this population lives in unplanned areas, deplorable conditions with no proper disposal sites, transportation systems, electricity and water (Heikens 2009, p. 281).
Aar and Claudio (2007, p. 315) cite that though living in slums has largely been associated with lack of enough resources, institutional setup and leadership of a nation are also major contributing factors that have accelerated slum development. This paper evaluates New Delhi slums and the internal issues affecting this settlement.
New Delhi slums
New Delhi slum has been considered among the largest slums across the globe. Its development is believed to have sprung over 40 years ago due to the state of poverty among immigrants who could not buy land or afford the cost of housing in the city (Heikens 2009, p. 281).
The group then settled along the Yamuna Riverbed on both sides. A string of shanty towns began developing faster as additional jhuggi clusters came to this area. It is worth noting that currently, New Delhi city hosts over 18 million people with the slum bearing about 10 million people (Heikens 2009, p. 281).
The growth of massive slum dwelling areas similar to the Yamuna Pushta in Delhi in spite of the developments in the adjacent city must be viewed as a factor attached to leadership and its application in the community. Several nations experiencing similar growth of slum colonies with lack of water, electricity, transport systems and waste disposal areas appear to share a common factor namely poor leadership.
Kaprov and Kaprov (2009, p. 234) cite that a nation where slum growth is attributed to poor leadership reflects the lack of proper leadership that has the ability to effectively prioritize essential and basic aspects and create ego-centric models. Current and debilitating issues affecting the populations living in New Delhi slums shows the critical nature of the role of leadership in community development and environmental wellbeing.
Water forms the most essential element for all forms of life in a natural system and important ingredient for most industrial processes worldwide. As a result, it impacts the general health of people, communities and even ecosystems. The problem associated with water in the colonies of slums in New Delhi has been a major issue with up to 100000 people sharing one tap of water (Heikens 2009, p. 281).
This has been blamed on lack of proper systems of water that channel the resource to slum dwellers and the overall lack of water facing New Delhi city. The effect of this has been long queues in search for water whereby individuals are forced to wait for water for long hours because it comes two to three times daily.
Joh and Kurt (2007, p. 376) postulate that the effects of slum dwelling are directly linked to high environment degradation levels. Quite a number of people in absolute poverty have less regard for the environment as their immediate focus is largely inclined towards survival.
For instance, most of the slum dwellers in Yamuna Pushta greatly contaminate water in Yamuna River in Delhi without considering the resulting effects. Lack of adequate water for the population drives most slum dwellers into using the river water for domestic purposes leading to the spread of diseases.
Sustainable electricity in a slum area is an effective security and a development strategy because it has greater effects to a community. Most importantly, electricity enhances economic development (Duflo & Banerjee 2011, p. 100).
In the New Delhi slums, electricity is a major issue that ha s been blamed on poverty, poor leadership and insufficient resources. As such, high levels of insecurity and underdevelopment have been witnessed in the slum areas.
Land tenure is an initiative which many local governments have embarked on as a major urban reform means which plays an important role of providing the poor with housing, affordable and basic services as well as development. In New Delhi, land tenure has presented a major problem of social justice and equity. According to Harrison (2007, p. 134), the latter has been blamed on massive evictions in the last decade.
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Some of the evictions were initiated as early as the year 2000 when the city was preparing for the Commonwealth games. There was need to create a game village. Worse still, the 2004 demolitions prior to the Lok Sabha elections were also a major blow on the issue of land tenure.
The question of financial interest in land issues among developers has been a major source of contention on land issues and tenure in the slum area. Ans and Rob-van (2006, p. 789) indicate that most slum dwellers have lived in same areas for longer period of time and as such, should be involved in plans of selling a portion of the land to developers or be allowed to continue staying on that land.
This assists in maintaining social diversity and vitality. In fact, most city slum areas experience high rise development due to the vast population of 700-1800 people in every hectare. In New Delhi, studies have shown that the social activities of the slum dwellers are important for the residential, commercial and industrial growth of the city.
Aar, K & Claudio, R 2007, ‘Poverty traps, aid and growth’. Journal of Development Economics, vol. 82 no. 2, pp. 315-347.
Ans, K & Rob-van, T 2006, ‘Poverty alleviation as business strategy? Evaluating commitments of frontrunner Multinational Corporations’, World Development, vol. 34 no. 5, pp. 789-801.
Duflo, E & Banerjee, A 2011, Poor Economics: a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty, Public Affairs, New York.
Harrison, A 2007, Globalization and poverty, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Heikens, GT 2009, “Book: Rethinking the role of the World Bank in the battle against hunger”, The Lancet, vol. 374, no. 9686, pp. 281-282.
Joh, I & Kurt, J 2007 ‘Income poverty and material hardship: How strong is the association?’Journal of Socio-Economics, vol. 36 no. 3, pp. 376-396.
Kaprov, R & Kaprov, S 2009, Master the GED 2010, Peterson’s Publishing Inc. McGraw-Hill International, New Jersey.