With the open markets and the liberasation of the economy in 1991 India went on a fast track economic boom with an 8-9% GDP growth per year. Urban areas have experienced an unprecedented rate of growth over the last 30 years.
India is considered to be one of the most attractive countries for industry in the world as the vast population and the low living standards ensure the cheap manpower (when a normal salary in Europe or America is 40 dollars per day the 80% of the population in India lives with less than 2 dollars among them the 34.7% with less than 1 dollar per day) and thus the viability for the industries. As a result the mitigation phenomenon to big cities from rural areas has started the last decades and cannot be controlled. Unfortunately as it is going to be explained below the infrastructure lacks and so does not usually ensure a friendly and sustainable place for the immigrant-dwellers.
Creation of mega-cities
During the last 50 years Indian’s population has more than doubled (today 1.2 billion), but the urban population has grown nearly five times (H.Taubenbock,2008). Right now more than 50% of the whole earth’s population live in urban areas (Clark, 2003).
The graph below shows the population growth of Mumbai
Graph 1. Ref (M.Barke, 1998)
More than 20 huge cities (with over than 10 million inhabitants) around the world were identified; three of the cities, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkatta, were on the Indian subcontinent. Mumbai with 3.1% and Delhi with 4.1%, the highest, population growth rates in the world. Cities and their growth should be examined carefully as they cover only 2% of the earth’s surface and consume 75% of all resources as well as producing 75% of all waste (Girardet, 1999; UNFPA, 2007).
Picture 1 & table 1 (Ref. H.Taubenbock, 2009. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems)
Location of India’s large urban agglomerations and population growth in the 9 largest Indian cities in million of inhabitants.
Lack of infrastructure-Problems
In the new mega cities with the uncontrolled urbanization a huge percent of the population is accommodated in slums without houses, hospitals, hostels, roads, no kind of city planning and finally but most importantly no sanitation, drainage system and water treatment.
Below there is a photo which shows the phenomenon of the slums in the huge cities in India.
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The picture above shows the largest slum in Asia at the heart of India’s financial capital Mumbai where millions of poor in India live in such conditions.
The rapid and extensive sprawl of the urban population cannot provide the urban planners with the information needed in order to provide plans with the appropriate amenities such as water, sanitation and electricity.
Main arising problems include: (Ref. R.K.MUTATKAR,1995)
a) Housing: As the urban population has been increased from 20% in 1971 to 38% in 1991 and is still rapidly increased urban land becomes very precious and insufficient to cover all the needs. As a result 30% of the population lives in slums and 45% live in single room tenements. Around 20% of houses are made from mud and thatch and one third of the population has no access to a lavatory.
b) Water supply: Common water posts are provided as the water in cities is inequitable. In Ahmadabad for example, 25% of the population consume 90% of the water whilst the rest of the population 75% have to consume 10% of water. Approximately the 34% of the poor urban dwellers do not have a piped water supply.
c) Sanitation: Despite the improvement in providing sanitation facilities, most of the towns depend on open surface drains for the waste water disposal which in terms is vulnerable to communicable diseases from flies, bacteria e.t.c. Also where underground sewerage system exist there is a danger of seepage in the corroded pipes which may cause great health hazards like hepatitis and diarrhoea epidemics.
d) Pollution: Air and water are mainly polluted from transport and industries. In Calcutta for example there are 11,516 factories and 525,000 cars. Also as the 70% of the population is using coal as cooking fuel, it is subsequently one of the most polluted cities in the world. Unfortunately rivers are heavily polluted by industrial wastes.
e) Health care delivery: Despite the provision of municipal dispensaries, public hospitals and private clinics and the modern imported technologies the medical system does not operate normally. As the 80% of medical practitioners cater the needs of only 20% of the urban population. The public hospitals and its stuff shows a very apathetic attitude to the patients in the public hospitals which enforce them to prefer the private clinics.
f) Transportation problems: The unplanned design of slums does not usually satisfy the efficient transportation of the workers. Due to the huge population concentration, the big distances to the work places and the undeveloped unfriendly to the environment transportation modes it is estimated that the transport sector is responsible for 70% of the national CO2 emissions.
g) Morbidity and related problems: In these over-populated areas (regions), communicable diseases like leprocy and venereal are in high levels. The poverty leads the men to alcoholism and few women to prostitution. Crime rates have been increased tremendously as well as death in the cities due to accidents and lack of transport and road safety education.
i) Climate change/fast growing cities: Except the lack of infrastructure and the living problems which that causes to slum dwellers mega cities contribute seriously to the climate change. Are charectirized from high levels of energy consumption, burning of fossil fuels and concentrated activities in disproportionate land.
Unfortunately the overpopulation of these sites and their rapid expansion to the suburban areas makes the problem even worse and impossible to be solved apace.
In conclusion urbanization problems have arisen from rural poverty and unemployment which motivated the citizens to migrate to big industrial cities. There is not however the appropriate infrastructure to accomodate the new comers or proper planning of transport, water, drainage and health care delivery system.
Mellenium Development goals for India (Ref.Economy, Investment & Finance Reports.2006)
The Millennium Declaration adopted 8 development goals for India are briefly presented below. The majority of them are relevant to urbanization’s arising problems.
1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger: India must reduce by 2015 the proportion of people below poverty line from nearly 37.5 percent in 1990 to about 18.75 percent. National Rural Employment Act will help to reduce the poverty ratio even further.
2) Achieve universal primary education: India should increase the primary school enrolment rate to 100 percent and wipe out the drop-outs by 2015 against 41.96 percent in 1991-92.
3) Promote gender equality and empower women: The female participation at all levels should be promoted to reach a female male proportion of equal level by 2015.
4) Reduce child mortality: The target is to reduce under five mortality rate (U5MR) from 125 deaths per thousand live births in 1988-92 to 42 in 2015
5) Improve maternal health: India should reduce maternal mortality (MMR) from 437 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1991 to 109 by 2015.
6) Combat HIV/ AIDS, malaria and other diseases: As the prevalence rate has increased from 0.74 per thousand pregnant women in 2002 to 0.86 in 2003, this increasing trend needs to be reversed to achieve MDG 6.
7) Ensure environmental sustainability: The proportion of population without sustainable access to drinkable water and sanitation is to be halved by 2015 and India is on track to achieve this target. Also this step involves the protection of forests and presrvation of natural resources.
8) Develop a global partnership for development: Basically meant for the Developed Countries to provide development assistance to developing countries.
These goals are intended to confront poverty, illiteracy, hunger, lack of education, gender inequality, infant and maternal mortality, disease and environmental degradation.
Solutions social-environmental-economical point of view (Ref. Manoj Roy,(2009))
A number of solutions and measures should be introduced in order to contribute in the elimination or at least decrease of the pre-mentioned problems.
Activities and measures will involve land use planning, climate change and city sustainability towards an overall urban sustainability which in terms will lead to a better life type now and maintenance of it for next generations.
1) Economic activities will invole:
a) Decentralisation by generating new jobs, work places in suburban areas or support to those existing in the rural areas in order to motivate the dwellers to stay, that will lead to a more balanced employment distribution.
b) Establishment of export zones for promoting their production and linkages between the formal and informal sectors as well as linkages between the rural and urban economy.
c) Support to micro-enterprises and especially those developed by women. Non governmental organizations could also provide micro-credit.
2) Social and institutional activities will involve:
a)Measures to encourage the public participation in the planning process, strengthening the participation of municipal authorities and the adoption of a strategic planning approach.
b) Land use plans and effects of land use alterations, research and development in the construction methods and building materials, mechanisms for private contractors to promote low cost housing scheme and development of secondary towns with the prospect to accomodate slum dwellers.
c) Enhance community participation in slum improvement project components, urban infrastructure improvement projects, measures to reduce the total population and health service programmes.
3) Environmental activities will involve:
Respect and proper implementation of the environmental laws, reduction of travel time, preservation of rural areas with high agricultural and ecological importance especially when these are located in or near to urban areas. Mitigation of flood, recycling, waste water disposal and sanitation and generally measures to reduce the pollution from industry and vehicles.
As climate change is of high importance nowadays few economic, social and environmental measures which could reduce the phenomenon are presented.
Economic measures related to climate change would be the enhancement of financial (the one which allows productive activities to get going)and social (shared values and mutual understanding) capital by reducing the travel time and distance, congestion, emmisions, industrial pollution and the promotion of sustainable technology (environmental measures as well). Synergy between the urban and rural climate change resonses is needed as well as reduction of vulnerability of poor and women.
Social/institutional measures target on public awareness, education for appropriate environmental behaviour, reduction of carbon sinks, enhancement of responsive capacity of the local authorities e.t.c. Resilience of the built environment plans and energy efficiency with protection and measures against the vulnerability of the poor.
Engineering role and contribution
The problems presented above should be confronted and are big challenges for the humanity as whole. In this approach which will have as targets the above pre-mentioned goals which will lead to the improvement of human lives with respect to the environment, the role of engineers is really vital. For the city planning and development series of data, plans and knowledge are needed like scientific background, geo-information technology, planning support systems, urban morphology etc. All of the above in order to be efficiently used will be analysed and used from civil engineers. Especially civil engineers which are involved with the majority of projects such as sustainable city planning, development of existing infrastructure (strengthening of existing constructions, maintenance e.t.c), transportation issues (design of roads), waste water treatment and sanitation mechanisms e.t.c will be responsible for the sustainable development and future progress of these regions.