India’s urbanisation is “messy and hidden”, says a report by the World Bank, citing the country’s inability to deal with pressures on infrastructure, basic civic services, land and housing, due to increase in urban population. “If managed well, urbanisation can lead to sustainable growth by increasing productivity, allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge,” said its MD and chief operating officer Sri Mulyani Indrawati.
Messy urbanization in India is reflected in the nearly 6.55 crore Indians who, according to the 2011 Census, live in urban slums, as well as the 13.7% of the urban population that lives below the national poverty line.
It is also reflected in the increasing uncontrolled expansion of cities, it says. Hidden urbanisation is seen in the large share of India’s population that lives in unorganised settlements that possess urban characteristics but do not satisfy the civic criteria required to be officially classified as urban, the report said.
In its policy recommendations, the report suggested three fundamental deficits – in empowerment, resources and accountability of urban bodies – needed to be addressed on priority basis.
In India, the pace of urbanisation was just over 1.15% a year from 2001 to 2011. Analyzing the pattern of India’s urbanisation, World Bank says that while India added seven multi-city agglomerations between 1999 and 2010 for 30 cities, its cities are not able to take full advantage of them.
The largest metro cities, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, saw a 16% loss in manufacturing jobs between 1998 and 2005 within 10 km of city centres, as manufacturing and other major industries moved to the outskirts. On the other hand, job growth in their immediate peripheries increased by almost 12%. “It is encouraging that programmes like Smart Cities and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation are incorporating the ideas outlined in this report,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank’s India director.