J&K: Houses and the Households


India’s Census Organization has released data pertaining to buildings, their use and the occupants besides the basic requirements of the population living in them.

The Shehr-e-Khas around the historic Jamia Masjid. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Vast changes seem to have taken place since the census of 2001. While the number of districts jumped from 14 to 22, sub-districts from 59 to 82, statutory towns from 72 to 86, the actual inhabited villages fell from 6652 to 6553. Kashmir Life offers the scenario of the entire state as a single entity where availability of phones jumped from 2.3 percent to a whopping 62.5 percent of the population in ten years.

So how many buildings exist in J&K?
The census data released last week suggests that its enumerators have counted 36,03,632 buildings across the state. At the time of the census, 3,04,413 were lying vacant and 32,99,219 were occupied.

Of the building that were occupied at the time of census, 77.1 percent were purely residential, 2.8 percent were being used for residence and other purposes, 5.8 percent were shopping premises, 0.7 percent were schools and colleges, 0.2 percent were hotels and guest houses, 0.2 percent were hospitals and dispensaries, 0.8 percent were factories, workshops and work-sheds, one percent were place of worship for different faiths living across J&K, 11 percent were under ‘other’ non residential use. The enumerators found 0.4 percent of these buildings locked at the time of census.

And the households?

In 2001, the enumerators found 15,51,768 households living across J&K that had increased to 20,15,088 in 2011 – a net increase of 4,63,320 families (22.99 percent) in 10 years. While the rural households increased by 336563 families (22.46 percent) from 11,61,357 to 14,97,920 in ten years, those in the urban areas jumped from 3,90,411 to 5,17,168 families – a net increase of 1,26,757 families in 10 years exhibiting a growth of 24.50 percent. It essentially means that urban areas across Kashmir are either having a high rate of nuclearization or simply the nuclear families from the periphery are settling. Peripheral areas continue to have longer joint families.

What is the size of the households in J&K?
The families having six to eight members dominate the family scene across J&K. This category of the family makes 34.1 percent of all the families counted by the numerators. The second category of the families have five members each and they constitute 20.2 percent of the overall population. Families having nine or more than nine individuals in the household constitute 10.2 percent of the families followed by 18.4 percent families having four member and 9.9 percent families with three members. J&K has 5.6 percent families with two members and, interestingly, 1.6 percent families comprising of only one member. The detailed data is not available but the sketchy statistics suggest around one-third of the families living in J&K are nuclear.

What kind of houses are the people in J&K living?

The census organization has taken two parameters in deciding the status of the houses – the roofing and the flooring. The data suggest that while 46.6 percent of the buildings across J&K have GI, metal, asbestos sheet roof, there are 24 percent constructions that have concrete roofing. The enumerators have counted 25.3 percent constructions having mud, grass, bamboo or thatch roofs as it was plastic or polythene in 0.5 percent cases, tiles in 1.2 percent cases (handmade tiles 0.9 percent and machine made tiles 0.2 percent), burnt bricks in 0.4 percent cases as the balance one percent used other material not specified by the census organization.

As for as flooring is concerned, a predominant 48 percent have mud floors. It is 46 percent cement, 0.4 percent wood, 1.6 percent stones, 1.9 percent mosaic floor tiles and half percent use other types of material for flooring.

An old photograph of a bridge in Srinagar main city that had shops on it. It is presumed to be the latter part of 1800 in Zainakadal.

How big are these houses?
Census data suggests a dominant 37.1 percent of the households live in a single room and another 31.7 percent have only two room houses. Three room houses are available to 14.5 percent of the households living in J&K. families with four room houses constitute 7.5 percent of the total household population and those living in five-room houses are 2.6 percent households as 2.8 percent households have six rooms and above. Interestingly, 3.5 percent households lack access to an “exclusive room” in J&K.

Does every family in J&K have access to safe drinking water?
Census data suggests that 63.9 per cent households have access to tapped water but it is sourced from the treated source in 34.7 percent cases and from untreated sources in 29.2 percent cases.

Across J&K, 6.5 percentfamilies get water supply from wells but these sources are covered only in 1.9 percent cases and not covered in 4.7 percent cases. There are many other sources of water for families: hand pumps in 11.4 percent cases, tube wells in 1.5 percent cases, rivers and canals in 6.7 percent cases, tanks, ponds and lakes in 0.7 percent cases, as balance 3.1 percent use other sources.

As far as the availability of water within the dwelling premises is concerned, the census data suggests it is available within the premises to the tune of 48.2 percent of families. Water is accessible and near the preemies to 28.7 percentfamilies but the water source is away for 23.1 percent of the families.

Boys bathing in a stream to beat the scorching heat.
KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

And what about bathing?
Census data suggests that 39.50 percent families living in J&K lack ownership to a bathroom. The ‘luxury’ is available to 52.4 percent families and in 8 percent the bathroom has no roof.

Where does all this water go?
The closed up drainage system is for 12.6 percent of the families as 52.2 percent have no drainage systems in place. Another 35.3 percent of families opt for open drainage.

Do all families cook their own food?
No, 0.3 percent families across J&K do not cook their food and in fact, 3.8 percent cook the food outside their house because they do not have kitchens. This luxury is available to 85.7 percent houses as 10.3 percent cook inside the house because they lack separate kitchens. Families use different fuels. The census data suggests a dominant 58.9 percent of the families still use firewood as the use of LPG / PNG is prevalent in 31.6 percent of the families. It is crop residue in 2.5 percent households, dried cow dung in 4.2 percent hearths, Kerosene oil in 1.3 percent homes, electricity in 0.4 percent homes, biogas in 0.8 percent households as 0.2 percent use any other fuel.

Do the families use the same fuels for lighting purposes also?
No. The situation seems to have improved. Electricity as the main source of lighting has jumped from 80.6 percent in 2001 to 85.1 percent in 2011. Use of kerosene has fell from 14.8 percent to 9.7 percent, other lighting sources have gone down from 4.2 percent to 3.2 percent. Solar lighting is used by 0.4 percent of the families as per 2011 census. However, what is interesting is that ‘no-lighting’ population has jumped from 0.5 percent to 2 percent in 10 years. As per census, they do not use anything for lighting. This population has doubled in urban areas from 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent and in rural areas, it has jumped from 0.6 percent to 2.6 percent.

Do families have good latrines?
Census data suggests that 51.2 percent families have latrine available within the residential premises. Of them, 10 percent latrines have piped sewer systems, 17.7 percent have septic tanks, and 5.3 percent have other systems. Families using pit latrines, 3.3 percent have slabs over the latrines with ventilation as 2.2 percent have open pits and without slabs. In the ‘other latrines’ that various families are using, 3.2 percent families have night soil disposed through open drains, 8.9 percent remove it manually, animals service the night soil in 0.7 percent cases as 53.1 percent families lack a latrine within the premises. While 49.8 percent families defecate in the open, 3.2 percent use public latrines.

But the situation seems to be improving. While water closet latrine has improved from 8.8 percent in 2001 to 33 percent in 2011, the pit latrines have gone down from 17.4 percent to 5.5 percent, other latrines have fell from 26.9 percent to 12.7 percentbut on state basis no latrine households have increased from 46.9 percent to 48.8 percent. The crisis is more in the countryside where families without latrines have surged from 58.2 percentin 2001 to 61.4 percent in 2011.

Is there any information about the status of the assets families own?
Yes. There is some data and it is interesting. As many as 47.2 percent families own a radio set as the TV penetration has reached 51 percent families across the state.

The families are well connected. In 2011, the Census officials counted 69.5 percent families owning a telephone – 3.6 percent fixed lines and 59.3 percent mobiles and 6.6 percent both. In fact, 8.4 percent families own a computer – 2.9 percent have internet connectivity and 5.5 percent own computers without internet. The data analysis suggests that the use of radio is gradually getting down. In countryside, its use nosedived from 61.7 percent in 2001 to 44.1 percent in 2011 as TV improved from 28.8 percent to 39.9 percent in the particular decade. On state level basis the radio witnessed a fall from 65.1 percent to 47.2 percent as TV improved from 40.7 percent to 51 percent. Connectivity (phones) jumped from 2.3 percent to 62.5 percent.

On the mobility front, 10.3 percent families were found owning a bicycle, 12.9 percent owned scooters, as 7.5 percent families are car owners. Incidentally, J&K has 17.3 percent families that lack all of these assets – car, scooters, radio, TV, phones.


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