INTRODUCTION street vending and small scale industry employees. Chennai,




India, the country being one of the fastest growing economy and 6th largest nation in terms of global GDP, it has its own disadvantages such as poverty and illiteracy rates like other developing countries.

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Even though the IT and agricultural sectors play a major role in the economy, one third of the population are still engaged in domestic works such as daily wages jobs, street vending and small scale industry employees.

Chennai, one of the commercial capitals and house of industries, has around 25 – 30% people who live in slums. Cities can never only be a place for rich people. People from the sub-urban and villages often move into the city in search of jobs, where they could not afford for apposite place and hence settle up in the slums or government owned lands or wastelands for their livelihood.




According to the slum Area Improvement Act, 1956 (under Section 3 of the Slum Areas), defines slums as mainly those areas where dwellings are in any respect unfit for human habitation due to reasons of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty designs of buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangements of streets, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities or any combination of these factors which are detrimental to safety, health and morals. Thus, conceptually slums are perceived as compact overcrowded residential areas (and not isolated or scattered dwellings) unfit for habitation due to lack of one or more of the basic requirements like drinking water, sanitation, electricity, sewerage, streets etc.


Even though the exact reasons have not been found, it is always said that the slum has been dramatically increased after the Independence. Since, people started moving to the cities in search of jobs and to make their lives better. It was an era of Industrial revolution, when mills and machine oriented jobs starting to take over the world.

Predominantly apart from the encroachments around the factories, there are settlements along the canals, rivers and backwater vicinities. There is burgeon of migration towards the edge of the city since people could not afford the even the low rate rent in the city centre and the transportation cost is comparatively low in suburbs than within the city.

In spite of the worst living conditions, that includes lack of drainage / sewerage and access to clean water and air, people choose this livelihood because of the affordable cheap rent.


Aspects, People, Types of shelter, Materials used for construction, Amenities, Life style, Health and safety





Regardless, the type of houses, the community can be easily identified with certain features such as continuous houses (sharing wall), indefinite pathway (alleys in major), stray animals, garbage, sewer lines and the solid waste in the pavement, performing domestic utilities on the road including bathing and washing, street vending/shops.


Urban poor, people who cannot afford the living in decent neighbourhoods, people who migrated from the villages in search of job (better employment), homeless, specific communities are found.

-Literacy Rate:

According to the statistics, In Chennai, people who live in slum (currently) have 80.09% of literacy rates. Where male literacy rate is 85.77 % and female literacy rate is 74.21 %. It is significant that male literacy population is higher when compared to non-slum areas.



Since multiple families live in the vicinity, the rate of children population is relatively high.

Children goes to the nearby government (public) schools, and work in the nearby shops (often work includes cleaning and domestic jobs).

-Types of Shelter:

Kutcha house and Pucca House


A pucca house made up of walls and roof. Following materials are commonly found in the shelter:

Materials for structure: Burnt bricks, cement, stones (packed with lime or cement), concrete

Roof Material: cement and clay Tiles, GCI (Galvanised Corrugated Iron) sheets, asbestos cement sheet, RBC.

Un-burnt bricks, veneers, wooden logs, bamboos, mud, grass, reeds, thatch, loosely packed stones, etc.
Health and safety:

Apart from the garbage thrown from the households, the debris, unclean water, improper drainage slums are often situated around the scrap yard, polluted riverside and landfills. This creates a major health hazard which includes risk of life, since the stink and reeks produced from the garbage affects air, Hence the contaminated air when inhaled results in the asthma & emphysema.

Long-term health effects which includes chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys.

Flies and parasites developed from the debris are from the unsanitary conditions may spread / or the possibility of disease transmission is relatively high and are often annoying when people sit in the outdoor.


Insufficient openings, poor ventilation, due to lack of fuel (gas) often lead to cooking in open areas, due to lack of space for living toilets are not built, hence open defecation affects the hygiene.

Apart from domestic needs, legal electricity/power supply and access to clean water supply is a major concern.

Life style

The routine starts on a 10*10 feet space which includes bed, storage and kitchen with a little or no opening and often cooked on the outdoor(pavements) and open space for bathing or defecating (often near junkyard).

Majority of people living in the slum are daily wage workers, who work in the construction, rag picking, or work as servants/ house keepers. Income are scanty in which they can only afford hardly for meals.



To do:


-People moving from village to city (cycle of migration)

-Majority of population choose low standard living or forced to move to slum due to unaffordable rent

-Standard of living in slum

-Fragmentation of city from its edge (Posh/sumptuous – slum/ghetto/ shanty towns)

-If government can enhance the city through beautification, why can’t it improve the standard/quality of living