Rural-Urban Migration increases Homelessness in India’s Urban Centers [%new%]
News Courtesy-Shraddha Chaudhary, III Year, B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), NLSIU Bangalore
Issue: Increasing homelessness in urban areas as a result of rural-urban migration, and the possible solutions
The National Forum for Housing Rights observed that the homeless population in Delhi is about one lakh fifty thousand. The top 25% of the urban homeless population of the country, in fact, lives in the top five urban centres of the country, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore, and the numbers have been rising dramatically every year.
The demographic of the homeless population is mostly migrant workers or daily wage labourers who flock to the city in the hopes of finding stable employment which they do not find in rural areas. The primarily reason for homelessness is the lack of affordable housing in these towns which see more people flow in every day than it can house. Because of this, migrants either live in shanties with relatives who had migrated earlier to the city, or in small hutments of their own. Either way, because these are usually encroachments, the arrangement tend to be temporary, until such time that the encroachments are cleared away by the government.
The rising numbers of the homeless is disturbing and worrisome because they are forced to live in unsafe, unhygienic circumstances. They tend to be unaccounted for and are often both the victims and the perpetrators of crime. In light of this, it is absolutely essential for the government to find a way to reduce the numbers of the urban homeless.
In doing this, the measures taken by the state of Tamil Nadu may serve as a guide. Studies have shown that Chennai has the lowest number of homeless persons compared to other cities, including smaller second-tier cities such as Patna. This has been possible because the state has ensured that the poor have steady employment in their hometowns and are not forced to move to other areas in search of a livelihood. The state has had an incredible performance when it comes to providing jobs under MNREGS, and the sops provided by the state, such as free rice, subsidised food and electronic gadgets to poor households. Therefore, people do not feel the need to migrate to urban areas in search of jobs.
However, it might not be possible to take such measures for a city such as Delhi which sees migrant workers from across the northern belt of the country which, incidentally, is also one of the poorest regions. What is required, therefore, is regularisation of slums and better housing facilities. It is with this in mind, probably, that the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi has promised to secure housing for all by the year 2020. This is not to suggest that it would be an easy task, since the government would need to build over twenty-five lakh houses in the time. But it is certainly something for the government to strive for. Beyond this, there needs to be a general move towards increasing employment opportunities in rural areas so as to check rural-urban migration.
 IANS, Rural-Urban Migration Swells Ranks of Delhi’s Homeless, Business Standard (August 10th, 2014), available at http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/rural-urban-migration-swell-ranks-of-delhi-s-homeless-social-feature-114081000228_1.html.
 TNN, Welfare Schemes Check Migration and Homelessness, The Times of India (July 30th, 2014), available at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Welfare-schemes-check-migration-homelessness/articleshow/39272353.cms.
 TNN, ‘House for all’ A Tall Order for Modi Government, The Times of India (August 9th, 2014), available at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/House-for-all-a-tall-order-for-Modi-govt/articleshow/39907461.cms.