Guaranteeing tenure security to the households living in informal settlements (slums) has not seen any progress in urban India. This is because the policymakers have failed to see land tenure status as a continuum from insecure tenure to a legal status.
In general, the poor in the cities move from informal to quasi‐legal ( de facto ) tenure through various processes, and then to legal tenure ( de jure ) in cases of a public policy intervention that confers property title on them. In the absence of such a policy, the urban poor and low‐income migrants can seek to consolidate their urban citizenship through political citizenship in an electoral democracy, through welfare interventions by the state and above all, through their own subversions of urban legalities. This article first illustrates the existence of a continuum of tenure status in informal settlements in Ahmedabad City. It explains the factors that give a slum settlement a particular level of tenure status; and then through quantitative data, links the level of tenure security to social protection outcomes. The article shows that through small public actions, it is possible to improve access of the urban poor to social protection measures and that it is not necessary to leapfrog to extending property rights to the dwellers of these informal settlements. It is essential to realise that if land titles are given in a society where other rights are not present, the poor will not be able to retain them.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 41.4 (2010) Tenure Security and Urban Social Protection Links: India