1.77 million people live without shelter, albeit the number decline over a decade

Proportion of homeless people to total population declined to 0.15% in 2011 from 0.19% in 2001 during this period

Somesh Jha New Delhi
There were still 1.77 million people living without houses in roadside, railway platforms, under flyovers in India in 2011. However, the number of homeless people in India declined in 2011 even as families with no homes saw a rise in numbers, Census data released today showed.

In 2001, 1.77 million people were houseless.  The proportion of homeless people to total population declined to 0.15% in 2011 from 0.19% in 2001 during this period.

"Although the decline in proportion population is too small but it's good that there is a decline", said Santosh Mehrotra, Director-General, Institute of Applied Manpower Research of the Planning Commission.

However, there was a pick up in the number of homeless households as 0.449 million families in 2011 were without any shelter compared to 0.447 million households in 2001. But the share of such families compared to total families in the country declined from 0.23% in 2001 to 0.18% in 2011.

"This shows that there are more nuclear families as a result of which this might have been happening", Mehrotra said.

According to Census definition, houseless households are those which do not live in buildings but stay in open or roadside, railway platforms, under flyovers, etc.

In absolute terms, urban population saw a rise in homeless population from 7.78 lakh people in 2001 to 9.38 lakh people in 2011, but rural areas witnessed a decline from 11.6 lakh people to 8.34 lakh people.

Experts said this is due to migration but a significant decline in rural homeless population was encouraging. "This is a result of programmes such as Indira Awas Yojana and people moving away from the farm sector jobs", said Mehrotra.

Delhi and Rajasthan which went into the Assembly elections recently were among the top five states where the proportion of houseless people to their overall population was huge. In Delhi, 0.28% of the total population was homeless and in Rajasthan, it was 0.26%.

However, Uttar Pradesh had the highest proportion of homeless people in the country. Of the total homeless, 18.56% was in in UP, followed by Maharashtra (11.9%) and Rajasthan (10.24%).

The literacy rate improved from 27.5% in 2001 to 39.2% in 2011. However, more population with no homes withdrew from the work force in 2011 as 51.9% people were a part of the work force against 55.6% in 2001. This was witnessed both in the urban and rural parts of the country.

In this period, the overall population saw more participation in the work force from 39.1% to 39.8%. The proportion of homeless population employed as agricultural labourers also declined to 17.7% in 2011 from 24.5% a decade ago. This trend is again opposite to what was seen on the national level where there was a rise in share of agricultural labourers from 26.5% to 30%.

On the other hand, people without homes were getting more employed in household industrial activities as 5.6% of homeless population were household industrial workers compared to 4.9% a decade earlier.

First Published: Dec 06 2013 | 7:21 PM IST

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