The number of megacities in India will go up to seven by the year 2030, from the current five- the 2016 World Cities Report issued by the UN’s department of economic and social affairs has said. It points out that Delhi will remain the second most populous city in the world, with an addition of 9.6 million people. On a global scale the study suggests that more than half of the world’s population is currently living in urban areas. Most of the urban growth is happening in developing countries in Asia and Africa. By 2030, as many as 33 of the 41 mega cities will be from the third world. Of the 47 cities that grew by over 6% every year between 2000 and 2016, six were in Africa, 40 in Asia (including 20 in China) and just one in North America.
The report has not relied on the administrative boundaries of cities but has, instead, preferred to use the concept of “urban agglomeration” which is the “the contiguous urban area, or built-up area”. For example, in the case of Delhi urban agglomeration, the satellite cities of Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon are included. Such inclusion makes sense as people in these contiguous areas are economically and socially integrated with the main city.
The report calculates that by 2030, the number of mega cities will increase to 41 and their population to about 730 million or 8.7% of the world’s population. Other Indian cities figuring in 2016’s mega cities list are Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai. By 2030, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad will join them, as their respective populations would cross 10 million. Cities being able to create wealth, generate employment and drive human progress by harnessing the forces of agglomeration and industrialisation are said to be the reasons behind this urban population growth. Urban areas around the world are facing enormous challenges and changes than they did 20 years ago. According to the findings persistent urban issues over the last 20 years include urban growth, changes in family patterns, growing number of urban residents living in slums and informal settlements, and the challenge of providing urban services.
Interestingly, not all cities are growing. Out of the 1,063 cities with a population over 500,000, as many as 55 have shown a decline since 2000. Most of these cities are located in Europe and some in Japan. Their decline is mostly due to falling fertility levels, although some have shown a dip in population due to natural calamities like New Orleans (due to hurricane Katrina ) and Sendai in Japan (tsunami).