URBANISATION IN INDIA

RELEVANCE – UPSC GS PRELIMS & GS MAINS-I
First go through the text (given after the questions) and then attempt the questions
UPSC QUESTIONS
Q) With a brief background of quality of urban life in India, introduce the objectives and strategy of the ‘Smart City Programme’. ( GS -I , CSE 2016)
PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Q) “India is facing a serious crisis of urban growth at the present time.” Comment.
Q) Discuss the various steps taken by the Government to tackle the challenges posed by urbanisation in India.
Definition Of Urban Areas

The 1991 Census adopted the following definition for urban areas:
a. All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board, notified town area committee or other such places (known as statutory towns).
b. All places which satisfy the following criteria (known as census towns):
(i) A minimum population of 5000.
(ii) At least 75 % of male working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits, and
(iii) A density of population of at least 400 persons per sq. km.
c. Besides, the major project colonies, areas of industrial development, railway colonies and important tourist destinations were also treated as urban though they might not fulfil the above criteria strictly.

Issues With Urbanisation In India

Although India is one of the less urbanized countries of the world with only 31.8 % of her population living in urban agglomerations/towns, this country is facing a serious crisis of urban growth at the present time. Some of the issues with urbanisation are as below:

I. Institutional Challenges

1. Urban Governance – Poor implementation of 74th amendment act led to creation of weak Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
2. Planning – With Metro Planning Committee non functional in many metros, the current plans have become outdated and do not reflect the concern of urban local dwellers.
3. Finances – Major challenge is of revenue generation with the ULBs. This problem can be analyzed form two perspectives. The states have not given enough autonomy to ULBs to generate revenues and in some case the ULBs have failed
to utilize even those tax and fee powers that they have been vested with.
4. Regulator – Absence of effective regulator is leading rise in corrupt practices in Real estate sector.

II. Infrastructural Challenges

1. Housing – The growing cost of houses compared to the income of the urban middle class has made it impossible for majority of lower income groups who are compelled to reside in congested accommodation and many of those are devoid of proper ventilation, lighting, water supply, sewage system, etc.
2. Safe Drinking Water – The Zakaria Committee recommended the water requirement per head per day to be 204 litres for cities with population between 5 lakh and 2 million, and 272 litres for cities with population more than 2 million. However, no city in India/ gets sufficient water to meet the needs of city  dwellers.
3. Sanitation – The poor sanitation condition is another gloomy feature in urban areas and particularly in slums and unauthorized colonies of urban areas.
4. Urban public transport – Penetration of public transport is low and is not disable friendly.

III. Other Challenges

1. Environmental concern
2. Urban Crime
3. Poverty
4. Unemployment

Steps Taken By Government

1. The Constitution (74th Amendment) Act
2. National Urban Transport Policy,2006
3. National Urban Renewal Mission (NURM), 2005
4. Introduction of Metro rail and Mono rail for transportation
5. Smart City concept
6. Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)

Way Forward

1. Provide autonomy to 3Fs – Functions, Finance, and Functionaries.
2. Synergy in work between different institutional organisations, i.e., avoid duplicacy of work between state and parastatals bodies.
3. Proper planning with clear CDP (City Development Plan).
4. Community participation in planning and development.
5. Use of technology in providing basic amenities to people.

Conclusion

1. 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.
2. Urbanization has undermined old forms of political mobilization based on caste and religious identities and favors resolution of local issues through right based approach.
3. We must focus on addressing the issues associated so as to increase the pace of urbanisation which is sustainable.