Housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry officials said a committee formed to look into population of slum dwellers has put their numbers sizeably higher than estimated earlier.
"The 2001 census had estimated the slum dwellers to be 23 percent of the population of 640 towns surveyed but latest estimates show their number to be about 29 percent of the urban population," an official said.
In Jun 4, 2009, while addressing the joint session of Parliament, President Pratibha Patil had announced that the government planned to make India slum-free in five years through a new scheme, Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY),
A year has passed since the announcement and officials said the task of ridding cities of slums is complex and huge to be achieved in five years.
"The aspiration is to do it in the shortest possible time but it is unlikely to be done in five years," said an official.
"The aim is not only to make the country slum free in a time-bound manner but also to prevent future growth of slums by providing basic services such as sewerage, water, street lights, education and health services," said D S Negi, Director, National Building Organisation and Officer on Special Duty, RAY.
India is home to 61.8 million slum dwellers living mostly amidst inhuman conditions and according to the report of National Sample Survey Office, around 57 percent of slums come up on public land, owned mostly by local bodies and state government, 24 percent along drains and around 12 percent along railway tracks.