Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger, malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, homelessness, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Various social groups bear disproportionate burden of poverty.

Rapid urbanization has brought alarming unmanageable, inevitable, and persistent problems of slums in almost every city of the world. The slum life has not only affected developing countries but also the developed ones. The characteristic features of the slum areas are substandard, dingy houses of high density and congestion, overcrowding, insanitary conditions, absence of basic amenities like water supply, drainage and sewerage and disposal of garbage.

Lack of shelter leads to unnatural deaths during peak summer and winter months when thousands huddle out on the roadside, pavements, in unused drainpipes, under staircases or in temples and railway platforms. The slums located on railway land are usually classified as non-notified slums. In several cases people have been living in slums located on railway land for years, denied of basic amenities. As the slum dwellers have been tagged as “illegal residents” even electricity and water supplies are denied to them. In the absence of drinking water facilities, the slum dwellers are forced to tap water from pipes near the tracks for their household chores.