In the next 40 years almost 400 million people are going to be migrating to Indian cities; while this migration took almost 1000 years in Europe, the migration will happen at a much faster pace in India.
Most Indian cities today are reeling under problems of infrastructure collapse because of increasing population, lack of planning and poor management. The underlying cause very clearly is absence of a robust governance structure and its accountability to the public. The existing cities with their existing issues of infrastructure, inadequate governance structure, will not be able to address these problems. This is why there will be an increasing demand for new cities. Cities that are intelligently planned to sustain the demands of an evolving country and yet are sensitive to the environment. Lavasa is one such model of new city development.
The key pillars of new city development are:
Every aspect of a city, from economic development and population diversity to social interactions, is impacted by Urban Planning. Interdepartmental cooperation regarding city development is imperative as economic growth, traffic and road planning, healthcare related infrastructure, variations in demographics and education go hand-in-hand.
Urban planning intervention at the right time can help manage city growth using. The success of urban planning intervention hinges on the ability of the local authority to build economic and physical infrastructure within the settlements along with the necessary connectivity to the city centre and to similar other peripheral settlements.
The urbanization levels in India today stand at around ~30% and are expected to reach 40% by the year 2021. The last four decades have seen a 350% increase in the Indian urban population, and urban centers now contribute around 60% to India’s GDP. For India to sustain the high economic growth rates, these urban powerhouses cannot be neglected at any cost. Ensuring good city governance is imperative for the sustainable development of these cities.
The 74th amendment of the constitution was a national effort aimed at devolution of appropriate functional responsibilities and the corresponding financial resources to the urban local bodies. Previously, local government bodies were a subject of the state list and were governed under the state statutes. It was expected to make the urban local bodies efficient and vibrant units of self governance with increased participation from people, improved service delivery, increased accountability and transparency.
A successful city management system should create a strategically-oriented organization that optimizes its operations to serve the city’s residents in the most effective and efficient way possible. However, Indian ULBs are anything but effective. Even after three years Mumbai still floods every year during the monsoons, water supply in Delhi is still erratic, our biggest rivers still dirty and polluted and slum population in out metros continue to grow.
While most of the blame is partaken by ill-thought city planning and inefficient governance structure fraught with fiscal leakages, city managers cannot be completely absolved of the blame. In India, the citizens of a city do not have a direct say in the appointment of the municipal commissioner.
Technology in Cities
Today, technology affects every aspect of our life. It has changed the way we work at our workplace – having replaced the older hard-bound files with documents residing in our laptops. In fact, technology is no longer restricted to the workplace these days; it has permeated to our personal lives as well.
For dwellers in a city, use of technology has implications on citizen security, intelligent transport systems, utilities management and resource recycling. Many cities in India already have a network of CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras monitoring spurious activities at major places like airports, railway stations & shopping malls.
The 21st century is referred to as the ‘Century of the City’ as it is expected that by the middle of this century, the world’s urban population will exceed its rural counterpart. Urban population will increase from 50% to 70% of the world’s population by the year 2100. This growth is expected to be fueled largely by developing regions, expected to grow annually at 2.27% till 2025 compared to 0.49% in the case of developed regions. In India, the urban population is expected to comprise 40% of the total population by as early as 2021.
A major problem associated with this rapid urbanization has been the inability of local governments to cope with the colossal demand for urban infrastructure.
Considering the current situation in India, the urban infrastructure investment requirement is estimated to be anywhere between INR 1 trillion to INR 6 trillion; of this about INR 1.7 trillion is estimated to just meet the target of 100% coverage of safe water supply and sanitation services by 2021.
Sustainable development aims at meeting the demands of the current generation without compromising on the needs of future generations. Economic and social development should be achieved with minimum impact on the natural resources. In this century, a major challenge faced by all of humanity is environmental sustainability. Millennium Development goals stress on the need to ensure environmental sustainability by integrating sustainable development into a country’s national policy and to reduce the damage caused to the environment.
Development continues to have negative by-products such increased air, land and water pollution. Rapid urbanization is leading to increased carbon emissions and a direct consequence of this is climate change, which is one of the biggest threats being faced by mankind and other life forms