Emerging Challenges Due to Unsustainable Urbanization

Urbanization is not a problem in itself, but unsustainable and unplanned urbanization creates the following problems:

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  • Overcrowding: Beyond the carrying capacity results in congestion, pollution and additional burden over limited natural resources of urban areas.
  • Governance status: As per Census 2011, the urban system of India consists of 7933 settlements – statutory and census towns. While statutory towns are governed as urban local bodies, census towns are governed as villages. As a result, India is transitioning from a primarily rural to a quasi-urban country.
  • Lack of adequate town planning: Master plans statutory instruments critical for managing urbanisation. They guide and regulate the present and future utilisation of land, expansion, and zoning of cities. But about half of our statutory towns are expanding without any master
  • Enhanced sense of relative deprivation: Gives rise to urban crimes such as human trafficking, sexual assault, child labour, Juvenile delinquency, prostitution, drugs and suicides.
  • Sub-Optimal Utilisation of Urban Land: Due to fragmented and poorly recorded ownership of urban land. multiple public sector organizations/agencies—ports, railways, ULBs, etc.— own land under their jurisdictions. For a city to develop holistically, planning for each land parcel must fall into one comprehensive spatial strategy.
  • Pressure on basic infrastructure: Giving rise to unsustainable land prices, unaffordable rent, inadequate health and education infrastructure, solid waste management problem etc.
  • Environmental degradation: Due to urban heat islands, rising pollution, inadequate drainage and persistent water crisis.
  • Unplanned growth of slums: As per Census 2011, 17.3% of the total urban population was in slums in India.
  • Poor City Planning for Disaster Mitigation: Chennai floods in 2015 due to encroachment of lakes and riverbeds makes for a prime example in this regard.
  • Lack of synergy: Between urban and rural planning and development.

These issues indicate a deep and substantial lack of adequate urban planning and governance frameworks.

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