Every person has the right to a decent standard of living be it food, shelter and clothing.
Access to adequate housing is an essential human right and every man, women and child is entitled to a secure home in which to live with peace and dignity. Therefore the right to housing is codified as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which reiterates the right to a standard living for oneself and his family. In India, every political party pledges adequate and proper food, shelter and clothing after coming to power; but the government in power has never been able to fulfill the promise of providing a shelter to those below the poverty line even after years of independence. As per the 2011 census, there are more than one million homeless people in the country who take shelter on the sidewalks, under the bridges, railway stations and other public places and of these, 9, 38, 348 people dwell in the cities. There are around 46, 724 people, reportedly, in the capital city alone. UN estimates also says that around 17 crore Indians reside in ghettos and slums and that over 1 billion people are inadequately housed worldwide. Following this predicament, three judge Bench of the Supreme Court has asked to convene a meeting of all the Chief Secretaries of the states within 10 days. One has yet to see if the meeting called by the Union Ministry for Urban Development will prove beneficial to the homeless millions across the country.
Even though comparatively better, the scenario in Kerala is also worse. Ironically, around 7 lakh families in the state are homeless despite the availability of an estimated unoccupied 11 lakh homes. Worse still, people who own lands do not have the financial means to build homes. The state government has announced a scheme recently to solve the problem of land dearth Kerala by providing three cents land to the homeless poor as a part of making the state a “zero landless” one. Amidst the existing financial liabilities, yet another target of achieving a zero landless state is impractical other than with the support of the corporate bigwigs. The state government has announced a scheme of one home in every ward of all the village Panchayats across the state marking the 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru. Around 19, 255 homes are expected to be built each costing Rs 2 lakh which is also impractical given the price hikes in the building and construction materials.
It is the duty of the government to ensure the welfare of the citizens by providing the necessary facilities to a decent living. Instead of lavishly spending on snobbish weddings, expensive conveyances, places of worship and other status symbols, people should be joining hands to reach out to the poor and the needy and those who lack a minimum decent living to provide them with basic facilities.