ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Slum Clearance or Improvement.

Weekly Note from Vol X, No 22, May 31, 1958.

There has been much talk of slum clearance in recent years, though the progress made towards tackling the problem has been negligible. When Prime Minister Nehru, in a mood of righteous indignation, proposed a few years ago that slums be burnt down, the task must have seemed simple enough to the man in the street. But far from any appreciable number of slums disappearing in the intervening period, there has been a fresh crop of them particularly in industrial areas, what with the continual influx of people from rural areas in quest of employment and what with the housing situation not easing to any extent. There is, therefore, no cause for surprise in the conclusion reached by the Selected Buildings Project Team on Slum Clearance that there can be no dramatic solution to the problem and that whatever solution may be thought of can be neither cheap nor easy. The National Buildings Organisation has estimated that the expenditure required to demolish slums and build decent new structures in their place would be anywhere between Rs 10,000 crores and 20,000 crores. Even if the definition of slums was diluted considerably, the task would still be of a formidable magnitude. In this context, one cannot but view with dismay the provision of just Rs 20 crores for slum clearance as also the construction of quarters for sweepers under the Second Five Year Plan. But that is about all that the country’s planners could set apart for this important task in the midst of so many other pressing demands. In concrete terms, this has meant the undertaking of only a few pilot projects of clearance here and there in a largely experimental spirit. While these projects do have educative value, they can hardly be expected to touch the fringe of the colossal problem of slums that the country faces

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