3 Reasons for the Growth of Slums in Urban Areas | India

Some of the main reasons for the growth of slums in Urban Areas are as follows:

The phenomenon of rapid urbanization in conjunction with industrialization has resulted in the growth of slums. Slums sprout up due to many following factors:

i. The shortage of developed land for housing:


When a city expands, it sucks in the villages surrounding it. In the process, the segregated colonies of fishermen, herdsmen, etc., are also sucked in the city.

The agricultural land of the village is put to urban land use, whereas the inhabited area of the village is left intact without the infrastructure facilities. In comparison to other areas, the rent and cost of living in these areas would remain low, resulting in overcrowding. Due to the lack of municipal services, slum conditions prevail and over the time, colonies of fishermen, herdsmen and such others become slums.

ii. The high prices of land beyond the reach of urban poor:

The slums developed in one area of the city, where the poor live get deteriorated in course of time. The area gets congested and overcrowded and in the absence of adequate municipal services, slum conditions increase. For example, in some cities during the 19th century, particularly in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, large industrial units tried to attract and retain their workers by providing small tenements or multi-storied row houses in the pattern of army barracks.


These row houses, called chawls, came up without any co-ordinated planning and were deficient in the basic amenities. The industrial workers who lived there found the residences comfort­able enough, but that increased their dependence on their employer. Over time, however, due to the lack of upkeep, dilapidation and so on, most of the chawls have become extremely poor in terms of quality of life.

iii. A large influx of rural migrants to the cities in search of jobs:

A slum develops as a result of the squatting of poor migrants. Majority of the migrants that come to the city are unskilled workers, who come to the city in search of better living conditions. Their dream usually will not work out and they end up in some low-paid jobs.

As these low paid workers are too poor to rent a house and pay for the urban infrastructure and facilities, such as water, sewerage and drainage, they squat on the vacant public land near the places of work, erect huts and use public facilities. Added to that, the city municipal corporation considers such settlement as illegal and does not provide any municipal services adding to the woes of the settlers and also paving the way for the growth of slums.

In whatever way the slum grows, slum dwellers form part of the urban economy. The slums are known by different names in different regions of India such as ‘Katras’ or ‘Jhuggi-Jhonpari’ in Delhi, ‘Jhopadpatti’ or ‘Chawls’ in Mumbai, ‘Bustees’ in Kolkata, ‘Cheris’ in Chennai and ‘Keris’ in Bangalore. Most of these slum dwellers are either employed in the category of unskilled workers or in the informal sector of the economy as self-employed persons in petty trade, repairs and transport.

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