Problems of Urbanization
India has the second largest urban population
in the world only after China. India’s urban population (about 28% of the total
population) is almost equal to the total population of USA. The rate of urban growth
is on the upswing. People in large number are arriving in the mega and metropolitan
cities, swelling urban India by more than five per cent annually. This stupendous
growth of population is the cause of numerous socio-economic and environmental problems.
Some of the important problems of urban India have been briefly presented below:
The growing population demands more space
which is not easily available because of physical and geographical constraints.
The scarcity of space leads to high price of land and high rents for offices and
residential accommodations. Since people cannot afford high rents, it is the main
cause of unwanted growth of slums
According to one estimate, there is an
annual shortage of about two million houses in Indian cities. This has forced low
income group people to live in slums or occupy footpaths and road pavements. The
number of such slums and pavement dwellers is rising in the metropolitan cities
In most of the cities of India, there
is growth and not urbanisation. In fact, the number of people is increasing in the
cities while the infrastructural facilities and civic amenities are quite inadequate.
With greater concentration of people in urban places, the social amenities like
housing, electricity, drinking water, transport, sanitation, sewage disposal, educational
institutions, hospitals, parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities are quite
under great stress.
Unemployment is the state of being involuntarily
out of work. In India, the rate of urban unemployment which is more than 3 per cent
annually is increasing progressively. According to one estimate, about 25 per cent
of the workers in the urban centres are unemployed. The high rate of unemployment
and under-employment often leads to high rate of crime.
Transport bottlenecks and traffic congestion
are the major problems of most of the Indian cities. The larger a town grows the
more important its functions become. The workers and commuters need more transport
facilities. Unfortunately, the roads in most of the cities, especially in the old
towns (down-towns) are narrow which cannot cope with the growing pressure of passengers,
travelers, and commuters. The number of private vehicles is rising steeply. It leads
to traffic congestion, delays, irritation, and tension. If the number of vehicles
is allowed to increase at the present rate without widening and upgrading the roads,
the whole transport system of the major cities may collapse.
The shortage of energy reduces the industrial
production of goods and their distribution. In fact, energy depends on the industrial
growth, efficiency of the transport and human comfort. The peak power demand in
the metropolises, million and class one cities is increasing day by day and power
situation is not geared to meet it.
Water is the first and foremost necessity
of human life. In fact, water is life, and man cannot survive without it. The average
per capita consumption of water in Kolkata is 250 litres, in Mumbai175 litres and
only 80 litres in Delhi as against 1200 litres in Los Angles and 1100 litres in
Chicago. The acute scarcity of water in the urban places of India may be appreciated
from the fact that in Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Nagpur, Shimla, Solan,
Surat, Udaipur, Vadodara, etc., only one to two hours of water supply in a day is
permitted. The National Capital (New Delhi) also regulates water supply to only
about four hours a day.
Environmental pollution is the other
serious problem of all the million and mega-cities. It is not only air-pollution
caused by smoke emitted from vehicles, factories and houses; water and noise pollutions
are equally serious. The scarcity of dumping grounds makes the rural-urban fringe
unhygienic and less conducive for human health. The problem of garbage disposal
(hazardous plastics, metal and package) is thus quite serious in most of the Indian
cities and urban places. Unfortunately, most of the garbage is dumped into the rivers
or along their banks. The cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai continue to discharge
a major part of their garbage into the sea.
Increasing urban crimes are disturbing
the peace of modern cities. According to sociologists, unemployment is the main
cause of crimes in urban areas. The unemployed youths indulge in crime like abduction,
extortion, kidnapping, murder, pick-pocketing, rape, robbery, snatching, and theft.
The slums are especially infested with unemployed criminals who, in due course of
time, become habitual offenders. Material culture, growing consumerism, selfishness,
stiff competition, lavishness, increasing socio-economic disparities, rising unemployment
and loneliness are some of the main reasons of this menace.