Unhygienic Living Conditions and Environmental Burden of Health Problems of Slum Dwellers in Meerut City, India: A Threat to Environmental Sustainability
India has experienced a rapid wave of urbanization over the past fifty years. India's urban population grew almost fivefold, from 17.3% in 1951 to 27.8% in 2001. Nearly 42.6 million persons live in slums. India is home to 63% of all slum dwellers in South Asia, constituting 17% of the world’s slum dwellers. The population of India grew at an average rate of 2% per annually, the urban population grew at 3%, mega cities grew at 4%, and slum population increased by 5% from 1991 to 2001. It is here that the real urban crisis is being felt. This paper discusses the living environment and health conditions of slum dwellers in Meerut city, India. The study is based on the primary data collected through the administered questionnaire from 374 households in the notified and non-notified slums of Meerut city, India. The study attempts to analyze the impact of socio-economic characteristics and unhygienic environment on health status of the slum dwellers. The study reveals that a large majority of the slum dwellers are living in squalid and unsafe environment. Over half of the sampled households did not have access to safe drinking water and toilets. Nearly 40% of the households did not have drainage system of any type while 80% households dispose garbage in open place. Poor economic conditions and unhygienic environmental factors have had deleterious impact on health status of the respondents. The intra-urban analysis shows that the non-notified slums were most affected by environmental pollution and lack of basic amenities. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive policy for primary health care for urban areas to address the deprivation of basic necessities and to address the problem of social inequality and environmental sustainability.
Keywords: Unhygienic Environment, Health, Slum Dwellers, Environmental Sustainability, Meerut City
Dr. Haroon Sajjad
Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Jamia Millia Islamia ( A Central University)