Urbanization in India

by Zahidul Hossain


Indian urbanisation is accelerating, with over 34 percent of the country's current population now residing in urban areas, compared to the previous year (UN World Urbanisation Prospects Report 2018). Due to a growing number of individuals migrating to towns and cities in quest of economic opportunity, it has grown significantly in recent years. For its residents to live in a future that is both sustainable and successful, smart urbanization requires the effective integration of physical, digital, and human systems in the built environment, among other things.

Issues related with urbanization in India include the following:

Urban sprawl, or the genuine expansion of cities, both in terms of people and geographical size, has encroached on agricultural and forest territories, causing them to become uninhabitable.

Overcrowding and uncontrolled construction of urban areas have resulted in an increase in the number of floods, diseases, and fires that occur on a yearly basis in many cities.

Demands for essential services such as clean water, public transit, sewage treatment, and housing are increasing as a result of global warming.

The expansion of slums as a result of insufficient policy, planning, and regulatory oversight.

Cities are producing enormous amounts of rubbish, which is causing major health problems.

Environmental issues such as urban heat islands, growing air pollution, groundwater pollution, and a persistent water scarcity are all being addressed.

Poverty, inequality, and unemployment are on the rise in metropolitan areas.

Human trafficking, sexual assault, child labor, and other urban crimes are all too common.

The government is implementing a number of smart urbanisation initiatives, such as the Smart Cities Mission, AMRUT, and others, in order to address these concerns. However, there are a number of obstacles that stand in the way of advancement, including:

Many urban local governments do not have a modern planning framework in place, which makes it difficult to maximize land utilization and adapt cities' growth to meet the requirements of their citizens.

In some cases, the 74th Amendment Act has only been partially implemented by the states, which have not completely empowered the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). ULBs require a clear delegation of powers, functionaries, and finances from the federal government.

State governments have not provided enough autonomy to urban local governments (ULBs) to produce income, while at the same time, ULBs have failed to make effective use of the tax and fee authorities that have been delegated to them.

Despite the fact that over 90 "Smart Cities" have identified 2,864 projects, India is lagging behind in terms of execution, with only 148 projects completed and more than 70% remaining in various stages of preparation.

Investment in urban infrastructure and capacity building is at a bare minimum.

An further problem for urban planners is the wide gap in levels of urbanization between states that exists. An urban area that has a cutting-edge technological model but is poorly planned, has obsolete legislative frameworks, or lacks a sound financial model will only serve to exacerbate the dysfunction in the region.

Conclusion: The unveiling of a new urbanisation policy that tries to re-build Indian cities around clusters of human capital, rather than just treating them as agglomerations of land usage, is a welcome shift in thinking. Specifically, we must strengthen the capacity of our cities, with a particular emphasis on land policy reform, by allowing urban local authorities the authority to raise funds and enforce local land usage rules.

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