Most Indian Homes Smaller Than Prison Cells, says NSSO Report

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The National Sample Survey Office’s 69th survey report on housing conditions is out. It reports that the majority of India’s population lives in homes with space smaller than the minimum floor area per person recommended for prison cells.

This is across rural and urban populations. The area recommended for prison cells is 96 square feet per person. The Model Prison Manual 2016 says that prisoners should be treated as human beings and be given necessary facilities. The minimum size of a prison cell is one such feature.

In rural areas, 80 percent of the poorest households have only 94 square feet available per person. In urban areas, the poorest 60 percent of families live in houses in which they only get 93 square feet per person.

Dalits and adivasis have less space per person. Families in poorer states also have less space. Per capita space for people in the scheduled case is 70.3 square feet, while for scheduled tribes it is 85.7 square feet.

Households in Bihar have the least space, with each person getting just 66 square feet. The richest 20 percent have an average of 102 square feet in rural areas, and 135 square feet per person in urban areas.

However, these numbers should be taken with a  pinch of salt. India’s jails are overcrowded, and prisoners may have less than the recommended living space.  

149 of the total 1,401 jails in the country had an overcrowding rate of more than 200% as on December 2015 as per the data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau.

In Mumbai, the average living space per person is just over 86 square feet. There are over 1.2 lakh people per square kilometre in Mumbai. What is more shocking is that 42 percent of Mumbai’s population lives in slums, and these residents occupy only 8 percent of the land within municipal limits. In the slum areas, per capita space is just 29.38 square feet.

Also Read: Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives boost to SMEs, women & housing