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India plans satellite mapping to monitor slums

Feb 15, 2010

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation will introduce satellite mapping to help governments discover new slums and prevent their illegal spread. It will employ the geographical information system to make effective analysis on slum communities, providing them sanitation and other amenities, and relocating them to suitable areas.

India is going to map its slums, the objective being to collect foolproof data on notified and non-notified slums across the country to meet the target of a slum-free India in the next five years.

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The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation will undertake satellite mapping of all slums in the country under the government’s slum-free cities initiative. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will collaborate on the project that will see Mumbai among the four metros to be mapped first.

The project will employ the geographical information system (GIS), and take two years to complete. Officials say high-resolution satellite imaging will be used to locate slums and identify their physical characteristics.

“Most of the time the plans are based on projections rather than hard data. We plan to map the whole country so that we know about the slums in each city. This would include non-notified slums, which are usually not accounted for,” Union Minister for Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja said.

The ministry believes scientific mapping will help governments discover new slums taking shape and prevent their illegal spread. Besides, it will be effective in analysing slum communities, providing them sanitation and other amenities, and relocating them to suitable areas.

“GIS mapping will be helpful for cities like Mumbai which have a high number of slums. We will be able to act in time while relocating slum-dwellers to places closer to their work. We can also club two slums into one and free up land,” Selja added.

The ministry is working with experts on a model legal regulatory framework for according property rights to slum-dwellers. The draft guidelines of the scheme have been prepared and circulated to the states for their comments. States have also been asked to identify slums and come up with development plans.

Just a few months ago, the government embarked on a nationwide socio-economic survey of urban slums with the aim of creating a database of slum-dwellers. A total of 5,161 towns are being surveyed to prepare a profile of household poverty and livelihoods of slum-dwellers.

According to data available so far, Maharashtra has the highest number of slums in the country (32%), followed by West Bengal (15%), and Andhra Pradesh (15%).  Mumbai’s proliferating slums are proving a nightmare for civic planners.

Source : Infochange
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