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  • Although India is one of the less urbanized countries of the world with only 27.78 per cent of her population living in urban agglomerations/towns, this country is facing a serious crisis of urban growth at the present time.
  • Whereas urbanisation has been an instrument of economic, social and political progress, it has led to serious socio­-economic problems. The sheer magnitude of the urban population, haphazard and unplanned growth of urban areas, and a desperate lack of infrastructure are the main causes of such a situation.
  • The rapid growth of urban population both natural and through migration, has put heavy pressure on public utilities like housing, sanitation, transport, water, electricity, health, education and so on. Poverty, unemployment and under employment among the rural immigrants, beggary, thefts, dacoities, burglaries and other social evils are on rampage.
  • Urban sprawl is rapidly encroaching the precious agricultural land. The urban population of India had already crossed the 377 million mark by 2011.
  • By 2030, more than 50 per cent of India’s population is expected to live in urban areas. Following problems need to be highlighted.
  • Urban sprawl or real expansion of the cities, both in population and geographical area, of rapidly growing cities is the root cause of urban problems.
  • In most cities the economic base is incapable of dealing with the problems created by their excessive size.
  • Massive immigration from rural areas as well as from small towns into big cities has taken place almost consistently; thereby adding to the size of cities.
  • Overcrowding is a situation in which too many people live in too little space. Overcrowding is a logical consequence of over-population in urban areas.
  • It is naturally expected that cities having a large size of population squeezed in a small space must suffer from overcrowding. This is well exhibited by almost all the big cities of India.
  • For example, Mumbai has one-sixth of an acre open space per thousand populations though four acre is suggested standard by the Master Plan of Greater Mumbai. Metropolitan cities of India are overcrowded both in `absolute’ and `relative’ terms.
  • Absolute in the sense that these cities have a real high density of population; relative in the sense that even if the densities are not very high the problem of providing services and other facilities to the city dwellers makes it so.
  • Delhi has a population density of 11297 persons per sq km (Census 2011 which is the highest in India. This is the overall population density for the Union territory of Delhi.
  • Population density in central part of Delhi could be much higher. This leads to tremendous pressure on infrastructural facilities like housing, electricity, water, transport, employment, etc.
  • Overcrowding leads to a chronic problem of shortage of houses in urban areas. This problem is specifically more acute in those urban areas where there is large influx of unemployed or underemployed immigrants who have no place to live in when they enter cities/towns from the surrounding areas.
  • The Census of India 2001 concluded the first ever and the largest survey of household amenities and assets which points a never-before profile of problem relating to housing in India. The outcome is both instructive and amusing.
  • Taking India as whole, there are 179 million residential houses, i.e., about six people to each house. Thirty-nine per cent of all married couples in India (about 86 million) do not have an independent room to themselves. As many as 35 per cent (18.9 million) urban families live in one-room houses.
  • For about a third of urban Indian families, a house does not include a kitchen, a bathroom, a toilet—and in many cases there is no power and water supply. Only 79 per cent (42.6 million) urban household live in permanent (pucca) houses. 67 per cent (36 million) of the urban houses are owned by the households while 29 per cent (15 million) are rented.
  • Several factors are responsible for the above mentioned sad state of affairs with respect to housing problems faced by the urban people.
  • The major factors are shortage of building materials and financial resources, inadequate expansion of public utilities into sub-urban areas, poverty and unemployment of urban immigrants, strong caste and family ties and lack of adequate transportation to sub-urban areas where most of the vacant land for new construction is located.
  • The problem of unemployment is no less serious than the problem of housing mentioned above. Urban unemployment in India is estimated at 15 to 25 per cent of the labour force. This percentage is even higher among the educated people.
  • It is estimated that about half of all educated urban unemployed are concentrated in four metropolitan cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai). Furthermore, although urban incomes are higher than the rural incomes, they are appallingly low in view of high cost of living in urban areas.
  • One of the major causes of urban unemployment is the large scale migration of people from rural to urban areas. Rural-urban migration has been continuing for a pretty long time but it has not always been as great a problem as it is today.
  • The general poverty among the rural people pushes them out to urban areas to migrate in search of livelihood and in the hope of a better living. MAJOR PROBLEMS OF URBANISATION IN INDIA
  • The natural sequel of unchecked, unplanned and haphazard growth of urban areas is the growth and spread of slums and squatter settlements which present a striking feature in the ecological structure of Indian cities, especially of metropolitan centres.
  • The rapid urbanisation in conjunction with industrialisation has resulted in the growth of slums. The proliferation of slums occurs due to many factors, such as, the shortage of developed land for housing, the high prices of land beyond the reach of urban poor, a large influx of rural migrants to the cities in search of jobs etc.
  • Dharavi was an arm of the sea that was filled by waste, largely produced by the people who have come to live there. The other cities with over 40 per cent slum population to the total population (Municipal Corporation) are Faridabad and Meerut. Kolkata, Nagpur and Thane have about one-third of their population as slum population.
  • With traffic bottleneck and traffic congestion, almost all cities and towns of India are suffering from acute form of transport problem.
  • Transport problems increase and become more complex as the town grows in size. With its growth, the town performs varied and complex functions and more people travel to work or shop.
  • As the town becomes larger, even people living within the built-up area have to travel by car or bus to cross the town and outsiders naturally bring their cars or travel by public transport.
  • Wherever, trade is important, commercial vehicles such as vans and trucks will make problem of traffic more complicated.  MAJOR PROBLEMS OF URBANISATION IN INDIA
  1. Water:
  • Water is one of the most essential elements of nature to sustain life and right from the beginning of urban civilisation, sites for settlements have always been chosen keeping in view the availability of water to the inhabitants of the settlement. MAJOR PROBLEMS OF URBANISATION IN INDIA
  • However, supply of water started falling short of demand as the cities grew in size and number. Today we have reached a stage where practically no city in India/ gets sufficient water to meet the needs of city dwellers.
  • In many cities people get water from the municipal sources for less than half an hour every alternate day. In dry summer season, taps remain dry for days together and people are denied water supply at a time when they need it the most.
  • The individual towns require water in larger quantities. Many small towns have no main water supply at all and depend on such sources as individual tubewells, household open wells or even rivers.
  • Urban areas in India are almost invariably plagued with insufficient and inefficient sewage facilities. Not a single city in India is fully sewered.
  • Resource crunch faced by the municipalities and unauthorised growth of the cities are two major causes of this pathetic state of affairs. According to latest estimates, only 35-40 per cent of the urban population has the privilege of sewage system. MAJOR PROBLEMS OF URBANISATION IN INDIA
  • Most of the cities have old sewerage lines which are not looked after properly. Often sewerage lines break down or they are overflowing.
  • Most cities do not have proper arrangements for treating the sewerage waste and it is drained into a nearly river (as in Delhi) or in sea (as in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai), thereby polluting the water bodies.
  • In most Indian cities, water pipes run in close proximity to sewer lines. Any leakage leads to contamination of water which results in the spread of several water borne diseases.
  • As Indian cities grow in number and size the problem of trash disposal is assuming alarming proportions. Huge quantities of garbage produced by our cities pose a serious health problem.
  • Most cites do not have proper arrangements for garbage disposal and the existing landfills are full to the brim. These landfills are hotbeds of disease and innumerable poisons leaking into their surroundings.
  • Modern cities present a meeting point of people from different walks of life having no affinity with one another. Like other problems, the problem of crimes increases with the increase in urbanisation.
  • In fact the increasing trend in urban crimes tends to disturb peace and tranquility of the cities and make them unsafe to live in particularly for the women.
  • Growing materialism, consumerism, competition in everyday life, selfishness, lavishness, appalling socio-economic disparities and rising unemployment and feeling of loneliness in the crowd are some of the primary causes responsible for alarming trends in urban crime.
  • Not only the poor, deprived and slum dwellers take to crime; youngsters from well-to-do families also resort to crime in order to make fast buck and for meeting requirements of a lavish life. Occasional failures in life also drag youngsters to crime. MAJOR PROBLEMS OF URBANISATION IN INDIA
  • With rapid pace of urbanisation, industries and transport systems grow rather out of proportion. These developments are primarily responsible for pollution of environment, particularly the urban environment.
  • We cannot think of strong India, economically, socially and culturally, when our cities remain squalor, quality of urban life declines and the urban environment is damaged beyond repair.
  • As a matter of fact, cities comprise the backbone of economic expansion and urbanization is being seen in a positive light as an engine of economic growth and agent of socio-political transformation. MAJOR PROBLEMS OF URBANISATION IN INDIA


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