Thursday, July 18, 2019 | ePaper

No end to pain and miseries of slum dwellers

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LOCAL Government Division Minister on Sunday informed the National Parliament that about 6.46 lakh people were living in 3,394 slums in the capital city Dhaka. Responding to a question from a lawmaker, he said there were 1,639 slums housing 4,99,011 people in the Dhaka North City Corporation area and 1,755 slums accommodating 1,47,056 people in the Dhaka South City Corporation area.
When Dhaka has been transforming itself from metropolitan to cosmopolitan city, at that time a huge number of people are still living in the slums in an inhumane condition. Undoubtedly it's shocking news for us. Even the figure given by the Minister in the Parliament was not up-to-date. He borrowed data and information from a census conducted in 2014. Otherwise, the number of the slum dwellers would have been even higher. In an unofficial estimation, over 10 lakh ultra poor people live in the slums across Dhaka city.  
The Minister also informed the Parliament that the government has been implementing several projects including providing primary healthcare services for the poor slum people. We must say the slum population whether these were legally created or not and whether the dwellers live on the formal sector occupations or not should get the basic amenities of life, including healthcare. It is often seen that, lack of job opportunity in villages, landlessness, higher chance of getting job in city and river erosion are the major reasons for people to migrate from villages to the city slums.
Increasing number of slum people means increasing number of ultra poor population. Slum dwellers' monthly average household income is much lower in comparison to urban people. Most of them choose their profession as rickshaw pullers, street vendors, day labourers, etc. Some of them also remain engaged in various crimes, specially drug peddling. In many cases, the young women become victims of prostitution and trafficking. They also suffer from various diseases, including fever, cough, headache, diarrhea, skin diseases, physical weakness and high blood pressure.
Though the conditions of slums, including sanitation, water supply, healthcare and education have to some extent improved in the recent years, we think it not yet up-to-the-mark. The government needs to adopt a comprehensive policy to upgrade the living standard of slum people.  And it's urgent.

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