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India's Urban Population

Autor:   •  March 3, 2011  •  Essay  •  2,332 Words (10 Pages)  •  2,104 Views

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Contrary to popular concepts of a predominantly rural India, an increasingly larger percentage of Indian population today lives in the urban areas. India's urban population is now second largest in the world after China, and is higher than the total urban population of all countries put together barring China, USA and Russia. Over the last fifty years, while the country's population has grown by 2.5 times, in the urban areas it has grown by five times.

In 1947, only 60 million people (15 per cent of the total population at that time) lived in urban areas. India's urban population grew from the 290 million reported in the 2001 Census to an estimated 340 million in 2008 (30 percent of the total population) and it could soar to 590 million plus (40 percent of the population) by 2030. This urban expansion will happen at a speed quite unlike anything India has seen before. The steep growth in number of people living is partly due to the skewed development that has led to proliferation of commercial activities, and greater job opportunities in towns and cities. Facilities like health and education, and infrastructure like roadways, telecommunication, airports, railways and ports are also many times better in urban areas.

In spite of its prominent role in Indian economy, urban India faces serious problems due to population pressure, deterioration in the physical environment and quality of life. According to estimates, nearly one third of the urban India lives below poverty line. About 15 percent of the urbanites do not have access to safe drinking water and about 50 percent are not covered by sanitary facilities.

Traffic congestion has assumed critical dimensions in many metropolitan cities due to massive increase in the number of personal vehicles, inadequate road space and lack of public transport. There is a huge and widening gap between demand and supply of essential services and infrastructure. Urban poor in India are forced to live under unhygienic conditions in slums, lacking in basic amenities. Slums have grown in almost all major cities due to inability of major chunks of population to afford accommodation in planned areas of the cities.

The five fold explosive growth in urban India has resulted in serious infrastructure constraints. Water, transport, housing, electricity, health and sanitation are some of the areas of concern. Infrastructure to meet these requirements calls for huge investments.

The Central Public Health Engineering (CPHEEO) has estimated the requirement of funds for 100 percent coverage of the urban population under safe water supply and sanitation services by the year 2021 at Rs 172,905 crores. Estimates by Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) indicate that the amount required for urban transport infrastructure investment in cities with population 100,000 or more during the next 20 years would be of the order


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