Towards Solving Housing Problems of Migrant Workers & Slum Rehabilitation

Towards Solving Housing Problems of Migrant Workers & Slum Rehabilitation

Towards Solving Housing Problems of Migrant Workers & Slum Rehabilitation

Kanhaiya Singh


(Views Expressed are Personal)

One of the glaring impacts of COVID-19 in India has been manifested in the insecurity faced by the migrant workers in towns and metropolitan cities. They found it unaffordable to continue staying in their existing locations despite government support of food and cash due to housing problems and unaffordable rentals.  Within a months’ time of lockdown, the migrant workers from large metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and many more started moving out of their current location to reach their villages and towns in home states. The scale of movement of such migrant workers has been unprecedented. Indian Railways alone claimed to have transported 6.31 million migrant labour using special trains between 1st of May and 9th of July 2020. An equal number is said to be transported by road.

Rising to the issue and to solve the housing problems of migrant workers and slums in urban areas the government has initiated extremely important policy decisions.

(1) Amidst COVID 19, on July 08-2020, the Union Cabinet of India chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi approved developing of Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (AHRCs) for urban migrants  / poor as a sub-scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY – U)

(2) This supplements initiatives for providing own housing for Urban Poor under Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY – U) where in-situ slum redevelopment (ISSR) has been launched as one of its key components. On 24 April 2018 the Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs reiterated the Centre’s commitment for In-situ redevelopment of slums areas in Delhi to achieve the vision of housing for all. And, more recently, the central government has decided to provide flats even to the tenants in slum clusters under the “Jahan Jhuggi Wahan Makaan” (in-situ slum redevelopment) scheme.


The above developments are perfectly in line with the recommendations of the CGDR- 2011 Report on Slums in Delhi and a Related Paper carved out of the same report:

The CGDR Report on ‘Socio-Economic Analysis of Slum Population in Delhi and Alternative Strategies of Rehabilitation’ prepared with the help of a Grant from the Planning Commission of India in 2011 presents a detailed and systematic account of socio-economic conditions and preferences of slum dwellers in Delhi along with Strategies for Rehabilitation existing slum dwellers and protecting the city from new slums. It proposes development strategy for making Delhi a slum-free city based on detailed analysis of data obtained from primary survey of about 2024 households randomly selected from a listing of 10123 households and profiling of 474 slum clusters in Delhi.

Primary and secondary information has been analysed to arrive at plausible /feasible strategies for making the city state of Delhi a slum-free city. It argues for (1) in-situ rehabilitation of slum dwellers of Delhi and (2) provisioning of affordable temporary shelters or transit camps to be set up near industrial complexes to provide temporary accommodation to the migrant labourers coming to Delhi in search of jobs till such time they are gainfully employed and move to an alternative accommodation.; and (3) fixing responsibilities for any upcoming slums on the relevant agencies and officials. 

The report estimates that the share of Delhi population residing in slums increased from 4.4 per cent in 1951 to more than 14 per cent in 2010. It is argued that the slum dwellers provide cost effective labour to the city and at the same time their socio-economic conditions qualify them for welfare programs of the government, which includes affordable housing for urban poor. These two facts together should be at the core of development strategy for a slum free city.

The report notes that slums in Delhi occupy precious lands in the heart of the city, which is surrounded by high value properties. Such land deserves more efficient utilization. The report articulates that the objective of slum free city is less likely to be achieved through the methods of in-situ upgrading or by clearing and relocation. Efforts to clear slums and resettle them at the outskirts of the city are resisted by slum dwellers as it tends to make them more deprived. On the other hand, in-situ resettlement in high rise modern buildings is more efficient. Considering the opportunity cost of the land occupied by the slum dwellers and appropriate floor area ratio (FAR), the report finds it pragmatic and at the same time economically feasible to rehabilitate all slum dwellers in Delhi in-situ with quality accommodation. The cost analysis indicates that such program would be viable solution towards twin objective of obtaining a slum free city and affordable housing for the slum dwellers.

To solve the problems of migrant labourers, the report argues for involvement of government and private sector to create affordable temporary shelters or transit camps as temporary accommodation to the migrant workers. This will on the one hand attract the desired work force to come to NCR and prevent slums from coming up further. However, the report presents cautions that such shelters should neither be free of cost nor should it give impression of permanent residence. Variety of alternative accommodation are suggested to suite different class of migrants with different capacity to pay.

Key Words: Slums, Delhi, Migrant Labour, Socio-Economic Condition, In-Situ Rehabilitation, Transit Accommodation.






Urban Development



CGDR Research


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