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Rural-Urban Migration in India: Paradoxical Vulnerability Effects?

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Raphael Karutz, Sigrun Kabisch

Sustainable & Resilient Urban-Rural Partnerships – URP2020", Leipzig, 25–27 Nov. 2020

In India, over 450 million people are considered migrants as per Census 2011, many of which have moved from the rural periphery to metropoles like Delhi, Mumbai or Pune. For an investigation of the migration trajectories of slum residents having migrated from rural areas, we conducted 24 semi-structured interviews in several informal settlements in Pune, ranging from consolidated slum neighborhoods to improvised roadside tent structures. Tentative results show that the reasons for migrating are manifold and usually interlinked. Environmental hazards, such as droughts, are often part of the push factor complex, albeit not always directly visible: Several interviewees initially gave livelihood concerns as reasons for migration, but elaborated that the underlying cause were droughts that reduced agricultural yields.  In search of better livelihood opportunities, they started their – oftentimes non-linear – journey to the current (not necessarily final) location in one of Pune’s slums. Pune has recently been hit by a number of severe riverine and pluvial floods. Among the most affected areas were informal settlements where many of the migrants had settled. Their location and building structure, but also their unique occupational and living characteristics made them especially vulnerable to the flood damage. With these first insights we would like to enter discussion within Session 15. To what extent did the migrants’ decision to migrate from rural to urban areas constitute a vulnerability paradox in that it decreased exposure to one environmental hazard (drought) and increased that of another (floods); and how was their coping capacity affected by the change of place?