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Basic amenities in urban India: analysis at state and town level

This study examines India’s progress in the provision of basic amenities to urban areas at the state level during the period 1991-2001, and attempts to explain difference in the performance across the states. It also examines the relationship between achievements in health and education, and the availability of urban basic amenities.

The main findings include:

  • although there was progress in the supply of safe water, electricity and access to toilets to urban households, there were large variations in the pace of achievement across states
  • the variation is significant in the case of capital intensive and networked facilities such as tap water supply, electricity and closed drainage systems
  • the existence of such networked facilities in 2001 and their extension between1991-2001 was strongly correlated with a state’s per capita income.
  • non-networked facilities such as water supplied through hand pumps and tube wells and the availability of a latrine in the house, show an improvement across the board covering even the poorest states.

Thus the findings show that while there has been progress in the coverage of basic amenities across urban India, it has been of a qualitatively different order in the higher income states compared to the lower and middle income states.

This has implications on the quality of life enjoyed by urban households with the gap between the better off states and the poorer ones poised to increase unless there is targeted government intervention.

The author says that the poorer states will need continued assistance from the central government to catch up with their economically well off counterparts and this should be factored into India’s Eleventh Five Year Plan.

On the interrelationships between health and education and urban basic amenities, the study finds that the states’ level of literacy and infant mortality in 2001 was significantly correlated with household hygiene levels in 1991. However, the author says that much more work is needed on the interrelationships at more disaggregated levels to draw firm conclusions.