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World’s fastest urbanization is in India

delhi Updated: May 21, 2011 17:01 IST
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Indian cities have witnessed highest growth for any urban cluster in the world, with Delhi and Mumbai topping the list, a study to be released on Monday says, while raising questions over insipid urban development.

The study, using the temporal satellite data and latest census results, shows that Delhi has grown by 4.1%, Mumbai by 3.1% and Kolkata by 2%. Going by this present pace of growth, Mumbai’s population is expected to cross 25 million by 2015, whereas Delhi and Kolkata will touch 16 million by then.

India’s population rose to 1.21 billion in 2011 in a decade with 35% of them living in cities, meaning fastest urbanization in the past five decades.

“The data indicates that the Indian cities are growing at a much faster rate than the planners are expecting,” said P K Joshi, the lead author of the study and faculty at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) University. “The urban nation is overloaded and under-planned.”

It is medium sized cities with problems similar to big cities but not enough resources, which are facing huge a infrastructure deficit. “These cities face similar problem as those of mega cities; they have significantly lower resources to devote to the complex infrastructural, social and environmental issued associated with rapid urbanization,” the study said.

Cities such as Jaipur, Pune, Kanpur, Surat and Lucknow fall in this category. A unique characteristic of most of medium sized cities is mono-centric and dense settlements, with complex expansion over time. Jaipur, Kanpur and Lucknow have witnessed steep urbanization in the past three to four years, the study to be published in Current Science says.

Minister of state for planning Ashwini Kumar recently said that India needs an investment of over Rs 1,60,000 crore to meet the increasing demand of infrastructure in urban areas. “It is biggest challenge of the 12th five year plan,” he said.

The study also says that Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Bangalore stand out as incept mega cities with populations ranging from five to seven million. The population of Hyderabad is expected to cross 10 million by 2015, whereas that of the others will cross eight million mark, the study predicts.

What was unique about these emerging cities was “high built up density at the core with decrease towards the buffer” meaning less congestion unlike Delhi and Mumbai which witnessed elongated and disaggregated growth. The satellite data showed that Kolkata and Mumbai have adopted the trend of upcoming mega cities in the recent past.

But, overall India is witnessing fastest urbanization in the world with 12 cities expected to cross the 2.5 million mark by 2015.