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Migration Narratives: The SHRAM Blog

Response on affordable housing in the Union #Budget2018

Blog by Nivedita Jayaram and Sangeeth S, Centre for Migration and Labour Solutions, Aajeevika Bureau.

The Union Budget announced a fund for Affordable Housing, and committed to provide assistance for building 3.7 million housing units in urban areas in 2018-19 under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (#PMAY). However, this does little to resolve the housing crisis in Indian cities, which affects its poorest and most marginalised populations.

Urban development and housing policies and programmes remain disconnected from India’s socio-economic reality of growing rural-urban migration for work, where 100 million, or 1 out of 10 Indians are seasonal circular migrant labour. These mobile and temporary populations of labourers are on constant flux, moving between their source villages and different urban work destinations. Earning less than a living wage, they are unable to afford housing even in the slum settlements of the cities, resorting instead to live in the open, in shared rented rooms in deplorable conditions or within the worksite.

In Ahmedabad city*, which is one of the largest and growing urban work destinations for migrant workers, there are over 2,500 families living on pavements, under flyovers, near railway tracks or in open grounds. More than 40,000 workers live in highly congested rented rooms, marked by squalor and disease, with more than 15 workers occupying a room that is not more than 8×10 in area. A large section of workers live in the city’s industrial peripheries, within the factories where they work, forced to sleep between machines, on the shop floor where they face numerous hazards. Ahmedabad demonstrates that in the economic growth centres of the city, more than a 6th of the population can comprise migrant labour, who contribute immensely to economic growth, but remain excluded from urban housing solutions.

Housing for All by 2022 will be nothing more than a rhetoric, and India’s urban housing crisis will only aggravate further if the government fails to listen to the needs of the most marginalised cross sections of its urban populations.

*These figures are based on Aajeevika Bureau’s ongoing study on housing conditions of seasonal labour in Ahmedabad city.

Please look out for Aajeevika Bureau’s full article on this topic, to be published in the Wire. 

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