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The slums of Kolkata can be divided into three groups: the older ones, up to 150 years’ old, in the heart of the city, are associated with early urbanization. The second group dates from the 1940s and 1950s and emerged as an outcome of industrialization-based rural–urban migration, locating themselves around industrial sites and near infra-structural arteries. The third group came into being after the independence of India and took vacant urban lands and areas along roads, canals and on marginal lands. In 2001, 1.5 million people, or one third of Kolkata’s population, lived in 2011 registered and 3500 unregistered slums.
Registered Slums (bustees): these slums are recognized by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) on the basis of land title; since 1980, they have been taken over by the CMC for letting/lease to slum dwellers.
Unregistered slums: this comprises slums onthe land encroaching settlements.
The ”bustee-type” generally has some form of secure tenure or ownership rights based on land rent or lease, with structures built by the slum dwellers, or house rental/lease of structures built by third parties.
Tenure security is, in principle, not available to the unregistered land encroaching settlements on road sides (jhupri), along canals (khaldhar) or on other vacant land (udbastu).
Over 40 per cent of Kolkata’s slum residents have been slum dwellers for two generations or longer, and more than half originate from the Kolkata hinterland. With the majority engaged in the informal sector, with average monthly earnings of between 500 and 1700 rupees and a household size of five to six persons, some three-quarters of the Kolkata slum population are below the poverty line.
This summary has been extracted from:
UN-Habitat (2003) Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, The Challenge of Slums, Earthscan, London; Part IV: ‘Summary of City Case Studies’, pp195-228.
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