Friday, 17 July 2015


United Nations is keen to bring awareness in governments and the agencies to plan our urban future to solve urban problems including the effects of climate change and enable improvement of living conditions. 

Situation in India: 

India has 2.3% of the World’s area, but has 17.5% of the World’s population. The population of India was 1.22 billion in the year 2011.It is expected that by the year 2021, India will be the most populous country in the World with 1.6 billion population. 

India’s population is next only to China with 1.22 billion in the year 2011. Urban population in India is 377 million i.e. 31.42% of the total population and rural population is 68.52%.The urban population in Germany is 74% of the total population, 80% in United Kingdom, and 82% in U.S.A. Population increase in India is about 15 million per year, which is equal to the total population of Australia. Addition of 15 million population every year will increase the problems faced if Governments do not match economic activities, infrastructure, and facilities required to cater to the additional population in such large numbers. 

India has the second largest urban system in the World. The urban population by the year 2021 will be about 503 million. The addition of about 126 million urban population by 2021 ie. in another nine years requires provision of employment in non–agricultural activities, affordable housing, water supply, power, and other infrastructural facilities as otherwise the urban problems will increase like; slums, inadequate water, power cuts, traffic congestion, etc. It is expected that the urban: rural ratio will be about 40: 60 by the year 2021..

It is observed that growth of mega cities is rapid in view of employment facilities , better connectivity to other cities in the state and the country as well as foreign countries ,higher educational opportunities, super-specialty health facilities, recreational facilities, etc. in spite of serious urban problems. Small and medium cities are not growing for want of those facilities. According to 2011 Census , Mumbai was India’s most populous city with 18.4 million persons followed by Delhi with 16.3 million persons, Kolkatta 14.1 million , Chennai 8.91 million, Bangalore 8.72 million, Hyderabad 7.74 million, Ahamedabad 6.35 million, Pune 5.04 million, Surat 4.5 million, and Jaipur with 3.07 million persons. The land and rental values are prohibitive in large cities. Even middle income families are not able to afford independent houses. One land in Mumbai was sold at Rs. 107 crore /acre during 2011. In Bangalore , rates are quoted in Cantonment area up to Rs.25,000/sft. 

The effects of unplanned urbanization is bad. About 23.5% of the population are below the poverty line. Only 67% of the household in India have electrical connection. Regarding the urban services, only about 50% of the households have taps in their houses, and 60% of the households have no sanitation facilities. Why in India such a situation exists sixty seven years after Independence in spite of large budget provisions in five year plans of governments and yearly budget provisions of state governments and statutory agencies, is to be answered by the leaders who rule the Country

The total geographical area of India is 328.726 hectares, out of which agricultural area is 169.659 hectares. In future, only urbanization will take place. Area under agriculture is limited. There is no way to increase agricultural land. Gradually area under agriculture will reduce due to urbanization. Whereas increase in urban space is possible by increasing number of floors in buildings in urban areas. If urban sprawl continues utilizing agricultural lands, food production to meet the requirements of future population will be affected and food grains will have to be imported. It is therefore necessary to conserve the limited agricultural lands by resorting to high density development in urban areas on wider roads. Higher density should depend on the size of the urban area. 

Situation in Karnataka:

Karnataka had a population of 61.13 million in 2011. It is about 70.2 million in 2012. Bangalore is the only large city in Karnataka unlike Tamilnadu and Maharashtra where there are several large cities. Bangalore is the fifth largest city in India with 8.72 million population in the year 2011, and about 10 million at present. 23% of the urban population of Karnataka are living in Bangalore City. During 1951, it was only 17%. The primacy of Bangalore is increasing due to the urban infrastructure available in Bangalore including connectivity to other cities in India and foreign countries. Investors prefer Bangalore due to this reason. Other cities in the state without the above advantages are not developing and efforts are not being made by Government to upgrade the infrastructure in those cities and attract economic activities. 

Bangalore is faced with severe urban problems like; shortage of drinking water, acute traffic congestion, high land and rental values, severe air, water and noise pollution, criminal incidents, etc. With huge investments, it may be possible to solve problems other than water supply. But availability of water from Cauvery source is not possible due to the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal’s award that only one third of Bangalore City sloping towards Cauvery River is eligible to get water from Cauvery source. Growth of Bangalore therefore requires to be curbed as it is not possible to give water to additional population after the year 2015. The State Government’s effort to get foreign investors to Bangalore is not correct. The objective should be to attract investors to the other cities which are not developing like; Hubli-Dharwad, Mysore, Mangalore, Belgaum, Bellary-Hospet, Gulbarga, and Shimoga-Bhadravathi. Proposals like that of Infosys locating an ultra modern large educational campus in Mysore is to be appreciated. This will help development of Mysore City which is under the shadow of Bangalore City. Such major activities should come up in the cities other than Bangalore. Other big firms like Wipro, Tata, Birla, Reliance, etc may consider setting up their future units in the other cities to encourage their growth.

Planning our urban future:

The following strategy is to be adopted by Karnataka Government for a better urban future in the State: 

1.Conservation of agricultural lands should be the policy of all governments. Urban sprawl should be curbed and higher density development is to be adopted, the density depending on the size of the urban area.

2. Growth of Bangalore should be curbed. No more major economic activity is to be permitted in Bangalore and environs. The industrial areas already developed like; Peenya, HMT Township, Whitefield, along Hosur Road, Bannerghatta Road, etc are already converted to commercial activities after many industries in those areas were closed. Even in Hubli-Dharwad this is the position. In spite of this, the proposal of KIADB to acquire thousands of acres of industrial areas in the environs like; Devanahalli area, Hoskote, Nelamangala, etc should not be implemented. The habit of ministers in charge of industries notifying large extents of lands for industrial zones and benefiting themselves by denotification as well as allotment of bulk lands in their benami names should be stopped forthwith, and the concerned leader punished in addition to taking over those properties.

3. Development of other cities in Karnataka should be encouraged by providing attractive incentives for investment in economic activities, higher education, and super specialty hospitals. 

4. Connectivity from Bangalore to other major cities in the State should be improved.

5. Urban infrastructure should be improved in towns and small cities to prevent migration. Incentives for medium and small scale industries should be provided.

6. Better road connections to be provided to rural areas from towns and cities. In addition, rural areas may be provided with better living and working conditions. Cottage industries should be encouraged. This will also help in curbing migration to urban areas.

7. Private sector may be involved to achieve the above objectives as the financial position of Government is not sound.

8. Major infrastructure projects like; Metro Rail/ Mono Rail in public sector should be avoided and implemented as PPP projects, in view of the slow progress of Metro Rail in Bangalore in spite of heavy investment.

9. Effective control of unauthorized developments and planned urban development should be the objective of Government and the civic agencies.

10.. Wastage of limited funds for infrastructure projects which are not used by public like; defective design of pedestrian sub-ways/ over bridges, etc should be avoided, and

11. Convenient and people friendly mass transportation should be organized to avoid growth of private vehicles and traffic problems.

The State Government may adopt an Urbanisation Policy for better urban future.