"Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody."
Urbanization world over has crossed the 50% threshold in 2008 and is likely to inch up to 70% by 2050 (WUP, 2014). In the Indian context, the largest democracy presently has the second largest urban population in the world at 377 million (31.7 %)2, after China (749 million, 2014), with the urban numbers having increased up to 429 million, and has been further projected to rise to 600 million (40%) by 2031 (High Powered Expert Committee Report , 2011). This is likely to result in an increase of nearly 200 million over the period, rendering a daunting image of the future of urbanisation in India.
A comparison of urbanization in India, with the emerging and neighbouring economies reveals a much slower pace with Brazil (84.6%), Mexico (78.1%), Russia (73.8%), Malaysia (72.8%), South Africa (62%), China (50.6%), and Pakistan (36.2%). The 2011 Census observed that the urban population (91 million) exceeded that of rural population (90.4 million).
A World Bank Report (September 2015) characterises India’s urbanization process as “messy and hidden” - messy because 65.5 million Indians live in slums and 13.7 million below the poverty line (Census, 2011) and hidden because the share of India’s population living in areas with urban- like features in 2010 stood at 55.3 % (according to the Agglomeration Index)3 in contrast to the official urban data. India may thus be far more urban than what is revealed by the Census Report.
This uncontrolled and expansive urbanisation has been marked with significant gaps in urban infrastructure resulting in pressure on land, water supply and its quality, sewerage network services, disposal of solid waste, lack of open landscaped spaces, air and water pollution, public transport, resulting in environmental degradation and poor quality of urban life. 94 % of the cities/ towns in India do not have even a partial sewerage. 64 % of urban population is covered by individual water connections and stand posts in India, compared with 91 % in China, 86 % in South Africa, and 80 % in Brazil. A considerable number of people in urban India defecate in the open every day having environmental and health implications. Waste collection coverage ranges from 70% to 90 % in major metropolitan cities, and is less than 50 % in smaller cities Public transport accounts for only 22% of urban transport in India, while it accounts for nearly half of the public transport in lower middle income countries (e.g. the Philippines, Venezuela, Egypt) and 40 per cent in upper middle income countries (e.g. South Africa, South Korea, Brazil). There is also inadequate focus on urban housing- there was a shortage of around 19 million dwelling units as per the 12th Plan.
With crucial and strategic urban infrastructure yet to be built in India, it is imperative that we include in our framework, the stipulations as laid out in the 11th SDG goal and targets to create inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.
The sub-themes for discussions and papers related to this track include: