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Life in the Slums of Kolkata


“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with virus that will end both their lives. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives and god is with us if we are with them.”…Bono

The growth of slum in urban area is one of the major issues for urban progress authority. In India each state has its own definition of slum.

Slums are those unclean areas where earning amount is very low and the most of the people are illiterate and from, the service facilities are poor, lack of drinking water facilities with drainage problem. The 1956 Slum Act defines slums as “those areas where buildings are in any respect unfit for human habitation”. There are 2011 registered and 3500 unregistered slums in Calcutta. UN-Habitat reports that, in 2001 approximately 924 million people lived in slums or informal settlements across the world (UN-Habitat, 2003).

Most definitions treat slum as a community of several households, rarely recognizing that housing conditions differ for each individual households within the area. The life of slum people is basically a manifestation of poor quality. These slums occurred due to various factors, namely, the shortage of developed land for housing, the prices of land being beyond in reach of urban poor, large effect of population, rural migration to cities in search of jobs, and insufficient provision of basis services and infrastructural services in urban areas (Gurumukhi K. T 2000).

The slum population has doubled in past two decades.

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India’s slum population increased 27.9 million in 1981 to 40 million in 2001 and 93.06 million in 2011(census of India 2011). It means that one out of four persons live in slums. About 7.6 million children are living in slum in India (Deshpande, 2011).


Followings are the main objectives of this study-

  1. To assess the socio-economic condition of slum dwellers.
  2. To study the educational standard of people and health status.
  3. Create an income profile of ward no 39.
  4. To propose suggestions for the development of Kalabagan, ward no 39.

Study Area

Kelabagan, a slum of Kolkata metropolitan city, is my study area. For socio-economic study the Kalabagan, ward no 39 has been selected as my study area.


Fieldwork is the practical aspect of geography where students go out of the classroom to study geographical features. The following methods are involved in this study.

  1. Studying relevant literature: I began working on this paper by studying relevant literature on the concept of slums and socio-economic conditions with special emphasis on the slums of India, Especially study about the Kolkata slums. This helped me to have a fair idea about social and economical status of different slums in Kolkata. Though there is not sufficient literature available on “Kalabagan Slum” in particular, the knowledge I gained from studying about other available literature of Kolkata slums. Before going to survey, I studied a wide variety of research papers to make a general contribution about my fieldwork.
  2. Collection of primary data: Primary data collected by physically visiting the “Kalabagan slum” through both observation and interviewing with the people of the slum. I prepared a questionnaire schedule which are comprised of various information in terms of socio-economic aspects with social and economical indicators such as education, income and living conditions that could be collected from the residents of that slum. Pictures of that slum are also taken for this work.

Primary and secondary data are collected for this field report. In this field study a total of 30 households were surveyed to study assess socio-economic context of “Kelabagan slum”. Random sampling methods were selected during the survey. Questions have been asked to the dwellers of the slum in understanding their socio-economic conditions. Collection of Primary and Secondary data, processing, analysing and presentation of data within logical framework these steps were followed to fulfil my fieldwork.

The data which were collected from the questionnaires, entered in MS Excel for analysis. For data analysis and interpretation of data I applied some standard statistical tools and techniques such as bar diagrams, pie chart, scattered diagram, mean, median, standard deviation etc.


A. From the religious point of view, out of 30 households surveyed, 24 households were Muslim (80%) and 6 households were Hindus (20%). It shows the dominance of the Muslim population in ward no 39. The survey data shows that “Kelabagan” slum is segregated on the lines of two dominant religions.

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Life in the Slums of Kolkata. (2021, Mar 02). Retrieved from

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