Delhi Slums – A comparative look Into Public Facilities
July 31, 2023 Saksham Mishra
Slums, characterized by dense and informal settlements, typically suffer from a lack of basic infrastructure and public facilities. In general they often face significant deprivation in comparison to the other areas in a city. This deprivation extends to crucial amenities such as access to open spaces, utilities, public transportation among others, perpetuating an environment without access to essential resources for a dignified living
This analysis seeks to delve into the specific dimensions of this deprivation with respect to the availability of public amenities, uncovering the disparities and drawing attention to the urgent need for targeted interventions to bridge the gap between slum areas and residential zones. Specifically, the focus will be on three key public amenities: playgrounds, bus stops, and public conveniences.
Methodology for the Analysis
For this particular analysis, firstly, data was sourced from Geospatial Delhi Limited (GSDL) for Public Conveniences, Playgrounds and the Bus Network in Delhi. This data was then respectively clipped and mapped for the residential land use identified in the proposed land use map of the Delhi Master Plan 2021 and the data on Delhi Slums provided by GSDL.
All the data sets used in this analysis can also be found and downloaded from the OpenCity.in website.
Access to adequate public conveniences, a term which includes facilities like toilets, urinals, drinking water points and other such facilities, is a fundamental aspect of ensuring public health, hygiene, and dignity for all urban residents. In this section, we delve into the comparison of public conveniences in the slums of Delhi with the residential zones demarcated by the Delhi Master Plan 2021. By assessing the accessibility of public conveniences, we seek to identify the disparities and challenges faced by slum dwellers with regards to these essential facilities. This analysis can shed light on the urgent need for improved infrastructure and services in marginalized communities, paving the way for more inclusive urban planning and development.
This analysis specifically looks into the availability of public toilets, public urinals and drinking water as these are certain facilities that slum dwellers often rely on at a public sharing level as they can’t access them at the household level. Hence, the provision of such facilities at the community level becomes an essential duty of the urban governments to properly attend to the needs of the slum dwellers.
Public Conveniences in Delhi Slums
There are a total of 2331 Public Conveniences in the total area of 137.03 sq. km. within a buffer of 250m around the slums, which ensures a density of 17.01 facilities per sq. km. These facilities consist of 199 drinking water facilities, 1756 public toilets, 36 urinals and 340 other undetermined public conveniences in the collected data.
Public Conveniences in Residential Land Use in MPD 2021
With 4690 Facilities in the 250m buffer area of 529.61 sq. km. around the total residential zone demarcated in the MPD 2021, the density of public conveniences in the zone comes out to be 8.85 facilities per sq. km. The zone has 488 drinking water facilities, 3375 public toilets, 80 urinals and 747 additional unclassified public conveniences.
From rudimentary comparison between the facilities in slums v/s the facilities in residential zones of the MPD, the per km. availability in slums is double (1.92x) than that in residential areas. The division amongst the toilets, drinking water, urinals and other facilities also indicate the same trend of approximately twice the density in slums as compared to residential areas.
While this is commendable on the part of the urban bodies, it is also to note that this is not without reason as the population living in slums is much more dependent on such resources as they may not have these available at the household. For example, since the sewer line density in slums is 3x less than that in other residential areas as I analysed in an earlier article, it becomes evident that there is an increased need for facilities like public toilets since they have to rely on community level facilities to carry out their necessary tasks.
This observation further highlights that even though the statistics show higher amenities for slums, at the ground level they still aren’t sufficient and more often than not their conditions remain questionable. While this analysis looks at the availability of public conveniences from a purely quantitative perspective, the quality of services should also be considered before deeming the current level of facilities suitable.
You can explore access to public facilities at different areas through this interactive map:
The availability of playgrounds is a crucial aspect of urban development, contributing to the overall well-being and quality of life of residents, particularly in densely populated areas such as slums and residential zones. Hence, it is crucial to look at the proximity of recreational areas to the inhabited zones of the city to find and assess the accessibility of such spaces to both the slums and to the rest of the residential areas.
One such way to do the same is to find the average proximity to the nearest recreational area for each inhabited area. By examining the proximity of playgrounds, we seek to gain insights into the disparities and challenges faced by these communities in accessing recreational spaces for children and adults alike. Such an analysis can help shed light on the potential social and developmental impacts of the unequal distribution of playgrounds and inform policy recommendations for equitable urban planning.
Playgrounds Delhi Slums
With a total area of 1.23 km. sq. under playgrounds out of the total slum buffer area of 137.03 sq. km., the percentage share of playgrounds in the buffer comes out to be 0.89%.
For further analysis, the centroids of each slum and the nearest recreational area were identified to find the displacement between the center point of each slum to the nearest identified recreational area. Hence, the average displacement between the slums and the nearest recreational area came out to be 676.81 m.
Playgrounds in Residential Land Use in MPD 2021
It is found that 4.33 sq. km. out of the 529.61 sq. km. land under the 250m residential land use buffer is utilized by playgrounds in Delhi, which comes out to be a 0.82% share.
Upon identifying the centroids of each residential area and the nearest recreational area, the average displacement between the center point of each slum to the nearest identified recreational area came out to be 562.45 m.
It is observed that the percentage share of playgrounds in both the buffer of the slums and the MPD residential area is approximately the same at 0.81-0.82%.
It is recommended that urban areas should have a percentage of 10-12% for recreational areas/open spaces. Looking at the recreational zone delineated in the 2021 MPD, it is found that approximately 12% of the land in Delhi is demarcated for the same, which provides a suitable share. Hence, when it is considered that most of such areas lie outside residential areas it becomes important to look at the proximity and accessibility of recreational areas.
Looking at the proximity to the nearest recreational area, the average comes out to be 677 m in slums v/s 562 m for residential areas, indicating that slum inhabitants have to cover a 16.98% additional distance to access their nearest recreational facilities. While the difference is not as significant as compared to the difference in accessibility to various other aspects that contribute to the quality of life, it does not take into account the quality of such spaces and how they differ in slums as compared to those closer to residential areas.
Another aspect to consider is that several of the areas included in this recreational zoning do not have free entry, creating a barrier to entry for slum inhabitants as they are less likely to spend their income on access to such areas due to lesser margins in expendable income.
An example of people not accessing a certain recreational facility through the formal entries includes the Aravalli Biodiversity Park in whose case it was discovered through conversational surveys that the people living near it are seen to not access the park through the formal entry but rather either enter it through certain other parts of the park or end up not accessing it at all despite it being a large open space in close proximity to them.
You can explore access to playgrounds and recreational areas for different types of housing in the interactive map here:
Bus Network Coverage
Efficient public transportation is essential for the smooth functioning and connectivity of urban areas, ensuring accessibility for all residents, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds. In this section, we explore the availability and distribution of bus stops in the slums of Delhi. By examining their proximity to bus stops, we aim to understand the challenges faced by slum dwellers in accessing reliable public transportation. This analysis can provide valuable insights into the transportation inequalities, and guide efforts to improve connectivity and mobility options in underprivileged communities.
For the analysis, firstly the Delhi Transportation Corporation’s Bus Stops were mapped over the Delhi Zones, through the available resources on OpenCity. A 500m buffer by on-road distance was generated around each bus stop based on the road network extracted from OpenStreetMaps. The buffer indicates all the areas in Delhi which are within 500m of a bus stop by road. 500m is chosen as the buffer distance as it can be covered with a 5 minute walk on average.
Upon generating the buffer around the bus stops, this buffer was overlaid and clipped with the slums in Delhi to get the areas in the slums that are covered by this buffer.
The area of Slums under the 500m Bus Buffer finally came out to be 4.22 sq. km. while the total area of the slums is 7.34 sq. km.
Hence, it was found that 57.53% of the total area under slums in Delhi is covered appropriately by the bus network.
While more than half of the area under slums has suitable connectivity to the bus network, there is still a major chunk that is being deprived of this necessary infrastructure. With other modes of transport, like the metro, being unaffordable for the population living in such areas, accessibility to buses becomes a crucial requirement to access workplaces as well as schools and hospitals.
The aim should be to increase the coverage by the bus network while also ensuring proper inter-connectivity across routes for easier travel. While the DTC has done well to make the bus system more affordable and accessible, steps can be taken to approach 100% connectivity in slums.
The same analysis through the buffer mechanism may not be viable for the non-slum residential areas due to such areas having the increased ability to access alternate public transportation options and hence, the proximity to bus stops may not be their foremost priority.
You can explore access to the bus network for residents in slums through this interactive map:
The observations made across all three aspects covered in this analysis indicate that the disparity in these sectors for slums as compared to other residential areas in the city is much lower than would be initially expected or when compared to other sectors such as for physical infrastructure including SWM, sewage and drain lines, discussed in depth here, where slums seem to lag in. However, this reduced disparity often seems to lie in purely quantitative terms and the municipal bodies involved should undertake studies and inventory reports on the management, maintenance and quality of such facilities, as there is a lack of comprehensive and all-encompassing information on the qualitative side of these aspects.
While it would be unfair to deny the progress in making public facilities accessible in terms of numbers,there is significant scope for progress in terms of quality to achieve an equitable provision of public facilities to slum dwellers.