A study into the lives of slum dwellers hopes to change the way policymakers view how the urban poor live. Scientists at the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) will soon publish the results of the study.
“We identified 36 slums in the city according to their locations and how they are spread across the city and outskirts, and visited close to 1,200 households. There is no proper and consistent data when it comes to slums in Bangalore. Reports have conflicting data. So we conducted this survey to understand livelihoods, shelters and mobility issues faced by people living in slums,” said Sujaya Rathi, principal research scientist, CSTEP. She said policymakers should pay attention to the specific groups in the city rather than looking at them as a whole.
CSTEP scientists employed members of the targeted slums to get information. “We knew that if we were to go to these slums and ask people questions, they may not be comfortable talking to strangers which is why we employed residents of slums to ask the questions. They opened up more freely to people from their own locality. This survey is more qualitative in nature; it is about how they live and what problems they face,” Rathi said.
Transportation is a major problem faced by slum dwellers. “About 73% of those surveyed said bus fare is too expensive. Also, when people are relocated to other parts of the city, they are sent to the outskirts and it becomes a big problem for them to travel to their workplaces,” she said.
The culture of sharing-auto rickshaws has sprung up due to this. “They are often allotted places where the routes are bad and buses don’t reach. While the share auto system is illegal in the city, it has become a good supplement to the BMTC buses for many of these residents,” Rathi said.
Rathi hoped the government would soon oblige the city with a share-auto system similar to the ones available in other cities. “Slumdwellers use normal autos and turning them into share autos as the bigger tempos, which are used as share autos in other cities, have not come to Bangalore yet,” she added.