Slum Rehabilitation Scheme

Why do people migrate to slums?

Cities have experienced rapid population growth in recent years. India, one of the nations with the highest economic growth, is home to numerous major cities, including Pune, Delhi, Bombay, etc. For those who live in villages, cities are the main draw. Because there are few resources in cities, the migration of people from villages to cities impacts city life. People from rural areas relocate to cities in pursuit of employment, but they must learn to live in slum areas due to poverty or inadequate housing plans. Other causes of slum migration include growing urbanization, a lack of developed land, high land prices, a big influx of rural migrants into cities, etc. Slum dwellers are the segment of Indian society that is most ignored. The poorest of the poor make up 26% of the population in India’s cities. Slums in India are places where the majority of people live in poverty, there is no sewage system, there is no access to clean water, and there aren’t many places to live. Due to lower room rentals, people prefer to reside in slum regions. Slums are a by-product of the contemporary age, to put it simply. The environment’s quality and sustainable development have drastically declined as a result of the rush in urban regions. In India, the main issues caused by slums are related to population, transportation, health, and safety.

The development of slums in India is influenced by a number of variables, including –

First off, one of the main reasons rural residents leave their homes is for employment possibilities. Urban locations are the centers of economic and commercial growth, thus the likelihood is high. As a result, both talented and unskilled individuals are drawn to it and move there. The second issue is unemployment and a lack of employment prospects in rural areas as a result of diverse industrial and large-scale agriculture industries. Thirdly, because they lack stable housing, slum residents fail to maintain their surroundings, which keeps them unclean. Fourth, there is a lack of political will, which allows the slum to be legalized out of concern for the emergence of other illegal communities.

The growth of slums both inside and outside of cities is crucial. People who live in slums in cities deal with a lack of resources, inadequate healthcare, bad sanitation, appalling living conditions, a high crime rate, etc. To rehabilitate the residents in slums, stronger plans and strategies are required. The slums in India are a major development barrier as well as an issue for those who are suffering. Slum dwellers’ concerns will be remedied automatically, as will the issues with the nation’s progress. As a result, appropriate policies and unique legislation are required to reduce the number of slum regions in our nation.

The history of the Government of India’s efforts                                       

Since the 1970s, the Indian government’s attempts to eradicate slums have increased. They first began in the 1880s. Mumbai started a program called Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act in 1956, which outlines various provisions to reduce slums. Section 10 specifies the government’s authority to command the clearing of slum areas. For instance, if the government decides to demolish a building, the building must be empty within six weeks. The state has the authority under this statute to declare slum clearance through surveys. This program appears to be ineffectual because the issue is one that calls for further funding to make the program useful.

The Slum Improvement Programme, which was launched in 1971, acknowledges the relocation of slum people who were uprooted by the prior scheme. This action significantly altered the slum policies. The state ensures that there is no threat to the public’s health or safety from the slums after realizing that clearing out the entire slum area would be a very insufficient first step.

Only a small number of lands were included in the project that provides sanitization, clean drinking water, etc. under this act so naturally, only a small portion of the land was improved by this action. To put things in perspective, this Act underwent modifications in 1973. In order to hasten the delivery of amenities, the Slum Improvement Board was established. This plan also has unforeseen consequences. This act, when combined with the MRTP, grants slum dwellers the legal right to trespass on private property. In the case of State of Maharashtra Vs. Mahadeo Pandharinath Dhole and Ors 1980 AIR (Bom) 348, the Maharashtra court invalidated the state government’s order designating the privately owned land as a slum.

Despite providing the slum dwellers with services, the state was also violating a number of human rights. The Bhabha Atomic Energy Commission handed around 70,000 residents of Janata Colony notice to vacate the property without compensation. 50,000 individuals participated in protests against it, but in vain. Inhumane living conditions prevailed in the camps. The Scheme did not have a great deal of success. The majority of its commitments were not kept.

The revolutionary case and its impact

The Supreme Court heard a writ suit that Olga Tellis submitted on behalf of Bombay’s pavement dwellers. Pavement dwellers made up approximately half of the inhabitants of Bombay. This writ petition was filed in response to the respondents’ decision that all pavement and slum dwellers in the city of Bombay would be forcibly removed from their homes and sent back to their places of origin. In fact, as a result of that decision, the Bombay Municipal Corporation demolished some of the petitioners’ pavement dwellings. Because the Bombay Municipal Corporation did not make provisions for alternative accommodation, the petitioners claimed that the eviction order was unreasonable and unfair.

Additionally, they argued that their “right to life,” as protected by Article 21 of the Constitution, depends on their “right to livelihood.” The Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, they further said, infringed Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Indian Constitution. The petitioners asked that the eviction order be reversed and that they be permitted to stay on the sidewalks as a result. The majority decision was given by Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud on behalf of the bench.

The following are the important points that the Court in this decision took into consideration:

  1. Is/was the process for removing encroachment on pavements specified under Section 314 of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, arbitrary and unreasonable?
  2. Whether the eviction order violates the petitioners’ “right to livelihood” and, by extension, “right to life” as protected by Article 21 of the Constitution?
  3. Does the state government’s and the Bombay Municipal Corporation’s contested behavior violate Article 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution?

The ruling by the Supreme Court, in this case, has had a tremendous effect on this area of law. Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution upheld the eviction orders, but Article 21 of the Constitution broadened the right to life to include the right to subsistence. The petitioners must be given alternative housing by the defendants (Bombay Municipal Corporation) before they are removed off the pavements, the Court rules. The Court ruled that the petitioners must be given alternative housing before being evicted from the pavements by the respondents (Bombay Municipal Corporation).

Conclusion

The Court was compelled by the sizable number of petitioners (slum dwellers and pavement dwellers) in this class action to draw down conditions and due process before removal. Despite the fact that a specific statute permits the eviction of residents of slums and pavement, this occurred (Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888). The Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, addresses the ban on occupancy as well as inhabitants’ discharge of various items on the sidewalks.

The Court determined that the petitioners were not “criminal trespassers” under Section 441 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 even though they were trespassing on public property and pavements without authorization. This was because their intention was not to commit an offense or to intimidate, insult, or annoy anyone. Instead of being motivated by choice, they are/were compelled to do so by unavoidable circumstances. Many of these findings will be helpful in figuring out whether or not the demolitions of Shakur Basti and Balegaon in Delhi in October and December 2015 were conducted in accordance with the necessary protocols.

References

Why do people migrate to slums? https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/slums

Slum Dwelling in India https://hindrise.org/resources/slum-dwellers-in-india/

History of Government of India’s Effort https://blog.ipleaders.in/slum-rehabilitation-programs-laws-mumbai/

The Revolutionary Case https://blog.ipleaders.in/rights-slum-dwellers-still-neglected-thirty-years-landmark-supreme-court-decision/

Impact of the Landmark Judgment https://scroll.in/article/776655/thirty-years-after-a-landmark-supreme-court-verdict-slum-dwellers-rights-are-still-ignored

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