Odisha: 23% live in slums & 8.5 lakh defecate openly

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According to the Census of 2011, 1.37 crore households or 17.4% of urban India's population lives in a slum. In the 5 states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal, more than 1 in 5 urban households live in a slum. In Odisha percentage of slum population is 23.1.

Out of the total slum population in the state 32.7% live in semi-permanent or temporary houses where they face evacuation on regular basis. 49.8% of the slum households use grass wood, thatch, metal, asbestos sheets as material for roof and 28% have mud walls. These materials are temporary and do not guard against extremities of weather. Only 38% of the houses are in ‘good’ condition according to Census figures for Odisha. It gives a picture where children are mostly neglected and in the state 10-15pecent children are living in slums.

Over the period 1991-2001, urban population has grown nearly twice than the state population. However, starting from a low base of urbanisation, while these rates appear high; the challenges posed by absolute numbers do seem manageable. The urban sanitation scenario is a cause for concern - 40% of urban households in the state do not have access to a latrine, another 11% of households have to share latrines with others (NFHS 2006).
 The recent 2011 census have stated that 39% of the households living in slums have a one-room dwelling and 34% have two rooms. Lack of access to basic services is obvious through the following data. An overwhelming 49.6% of the households do not have any kind bathing facility and about 1.7 lakh households (48.33%) or 8.5 lakh people of the slum defecate in the open. 53.9% of the households do not have any drainage connectivity for waste water.
The impact of unsafe sanitation conditions and behaviour are immense that adversely affect the urban poor, women and children. Besides poverty, lack of tenure, housing and environmental conditions in slum etc., constrains the urban poor households from gaining access to safe sanitation.
The allocation of funds in state budget though plays a major role but it also lacks in proper financial management and allocation of resources. 84 percent of department budget in average during last five years goes for establishment, maintenance and housekeeping related expenditure, while only 16 percent have been allocated for creation of new assets against rapid urbanisation in the state.
Again odisha has developed a sanitation strategy. All the goals of this strategy are to be achieved over a period of six years (2012-18). Looking at the budget allocation under this head in the department gives a gloomy picture. The allocation made for this purpose was Rs. 18.77 Cr (1.33 percent) during 2012-13 which reduced to only Rs. 50 lakh for the year 2013-14 (0.02 percent). Adding to this it is a fact that Children of around 20 per cent households in the city are still deprived of toilet facility for which they resort to open defecation.
These statistics are a sign of the intensity of urban poverty in India and in some cases exceed rural poverty. Children though have a major share in population are still neglected to the core, sayd Mr. Jyoti Prakash Brahma from Humara Bachpan Campaign, which advocates for a safe and healthy neighbourhood in Indian Slums with child friendly basic infrastructure. Taking a plea of slum life the government cannot ignore the dignity of life from a slum dweller and especially a child who is yet to know the difference, Mr. Brahma added.
Position: Communication Officer, Humara Bachpan Campaign

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