Indian mega-cities are rushing to provide world-class infrastructure to welcome capital investment. But a close look at the budgets of Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bangalore reveals that the investment in roads, flyovers and telecommunications for the few is at the cost of essential services like water, sanitation and public health for the many
Urban development that is geared to the needs of global capital displaces or excludes poorer segments of the population and leads to the social and spatial segmentation of the mega-city into citadels and ghettos. How can globalising mega-cities be made pro-poor and inclusive?
The urban vision invoked by the media is of a consumption utopia. What impact does this portrayal of a shining urban India have on city-dwellers who live in slums or on the streets? Surely, by stimulating desires that cannot be fulfilled, marketers are contributing to a revolution of rising expectations?
At 27.8% of the total population, India's level of urbanisation remains quite low. But that's still 285 million urban citizens, a number that would constitute the fourth-largest nation in the world. To feed these ever-consuming cities electricity, water and natural resources, the habitats of rural India are becoming more and more depleted, forcing further migration into the cities
Only 15% of dwellings in urban slums have drinking water, toilet and electricity within their premises. A quick view of urban habitats
Solid waste management accounts for over 50% of overall municipal budgets and manpower, but municipal authorities collect only 50% of the waste and recycle a negligible 5%. Technology and privatisation are the solutions being proposed everywhere. But public-private partnerships are turning out to be more about using public money for private profit. Is integration of informal sector wastepickers into the management of domestic and commercial municipal waste the solution?
Size clearly matters in the hierarchy of urban agglomerations. Most programmes including JNNURM are directed at the big cities. Basic civic services including electricity, sanitation and clean drinking water for the poor in small cities and towns are abysmal, and hardly better than rural areas. The widening gap in income levels between rural and urban areas cannot be bridged without developing small cities and towns
The well-planned development of small cities can help disperse rural migration and prevent overcrowding of the metropolitan centres. JNNURM funds can make much more of a difference in these smaller towns. But the bulk of the allocation under JNNURM goes to the three mega cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata
West Bengal has the highest number of census towns among all the Indian states -- with 528 villages reclassified as such in the last decade -- but only 127 urban local bodies. The slow process of municipalisation means that most census towns, especially those with fast-growing industry, mining and commercial enterprises, are urban areas governed by gram panchayats. Such urban territories can become unregulated free-for-alls, with low taxes but haphazard development and poor infrastructure and services
Yes, the urban population increased more in absolute terms during 2001-11 than rural population. But, no, this is not because distressed agricultural workers are pouring into cities. It’s because census activism has tripled the number of urban centres in Census 2011. In fact, exclusionary policies are discouraging the inflow of rural poor into the mega cities
Population growth in urban India has been decelerating over the last three decades, busting the myth of an urban explosion. Most cities with populations of 100,000-plus have recorded a significant decline in their population growth, more so the million-plus cities, suggesting that they have become less welcoming to migrants. Delhi and Chandigarh recorded less than half the growth rate of the '90s, and Mumbai district has reported a decline in absolute terms during 2001-11
The city is harsh terrain for the roughly 100 million circular migrants who move around the country in search of livelihoods. The territoriality of policy renders them invisible, denied access to essential services such as housing, subsidised foodgrain and bank accounts. Urban policy needs to be re-imagined to understand the realities of migrants
The most vibrant, people-driven process of urbanisation is occurring outside the large metropolises which dominate popular imagination. It is not directed by the state, as in Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, nor developed by the private sector, as in Mundhra or Mithapur. It is the result of decisions about livelihood and residence made by thousands of individuals that coalesce to transform a ‘village’ into a census town
The 74th constitutional amendment has on paper devolved power to urban local bodies. But even a cursory look at small towns reveals that elected representatives have little knowledge of their powers or responsibilities, cannot read or frame budgets and fail to generate local resources for planned development. Many of these towns are still transitioning between large village and town, with even basic public services absent, particularly for the poor