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UK pledges 14.5 mn pounds for Indian slums

February 04, 2010 17:13 IST

Moved by the plight of slum dwellers as depicted in films like Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, Britain has announced a new scheme and support of 14.5 million pounds, providing eight million people across India access to water, better sanitation and shelter.

Speaking at a high level meeting on the future of cities in India and Africa, international development minister Gareth Thomas said it would help to address poverty.

The Department for International Development-funded programme will support India's flagship Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission programme.

DFID support will initially be used in 20 cities in India giving access to piped water in 20 per cent more slum households as many currently use shared hand pumps and have no access to clean drinking water.

It will also provide over a quarter of all households with better sanitation facilities through improved sewerage, waste management and drains, besides allowing 25 per cent more households to have a legally secure claim to their home, through tenancy or ownership.

The funding would also enable some of India's poorest people to be involved in consultations on how to improve housing, slum infrastructure and water in their area. "Films like Slumdog Millionaire have helped to give British audiences a brief insight into the reality of how difficult daily life is for people in slums.

It is right that we take action to help those people who need it most."

"Although India has seen strong economic growth over the past few years, the scale of its need remains huge," a DFID release said.

"Seventy-six per cent of the population lived in poverty. There are more people living on less than $1 a day in India than in sub-Saharan Africa," it said.

Thomas said: "People often dont realise that despite being an economic success story in many ways, India still faces huge poverty and is home to one third of the world's poor.

"Poverty is particularly bad in larger cities. That's why this funding is so important -- it will make a huge difference in helping to meet the basic needs of some of India's poorest people.

DFID support will be a part of a 6 billion pounds project by the Indian government. Besides providing basic services to the poor in 20 Indian cities, it will help local governments and partners to deliver vital services to a further 43 cities helping some 45 per cent of the total slum population.

Prasun Sonwalkar and H S Rao in London
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