India fails to gain due to messy urbanization, says World Bank

Managed urbanization can lead to sustainable growth by increasing productivity and innovation

GN Staff | September 24, 2015


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Analyzing the patterns of India’s urbanisation, World Bank says that while India added seven multicity agglomerations between 1999 and 2010 for a total of 30 cities, Indian cities are not able to take full advantage of these agglomerations.

“If managed well urbanization can lead to sustainable growth by increasing productivity, allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge,” said World Bank managing director and chief operating officer Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

But India’s urbanisation is “messy and hidden” says a report by the World Bank. Messy urbanization in India is reflected in the nearly 6.55 crore Indians who, according to the country’s population 2011 Census, live in urban slums, as well as the 13.7% of the urban population that lived below the national poverty line in 2011.  It is also reflected in the increasing uncontrolled expansion of many Indian cities, it says.

The largest metropolitan cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad — saw a 16% loss in manufacturing jobs between 1998 and 2005 within 10 km of their city centers, as manufacturing and other major industries moved out of the core city to the outskirts. On the other hand, job growth in their immediate peripheries increased by almost 12%.

Hidden urbanization 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.

It is also reflected in faster population growth on the peripheries of major cities in areas beyond municipal boundaries. For the 12 largest Indian cities, satellite imagery shows that, for many of these, the proportion of built-up area outside a city’s official boundaries exceeds that within its boundaries. For all 12 cities, the proportion of built-up area outside city boundaries exceeds the proportion of population, implying that the spillover is associated with relatively low-density sprawl.

The spillover of cities across their boundaries creates challenges for metropolitan coordination in the delivery of basic services and the provision of infrastructure. And the scale of the challenge has grown, evident in the rapid spread of urban footprints. Analysis based on night-lights data shows that the region’s urban areas expanded at slightly more than 5 percent a year between 1999 and 2010. But the region’s urban population grew a little less than 2.5 percent a year. So cities grew about twice as fast in area as they grew in population, which suggests declining average city population densities and increasing sprawl.

For major cities in India, population growth has been fastest on their peripheries in areas beyond their official administrative boundaries. This type of urban spread is reflected in a large growth differential between the districts in which the cities are located and some of the immediately neighbouring districts. For example, the district of Delhi experienced population growth of 1.9 percent a year between 2001 and 2011, while population growth in Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida and Greater Noida), just to the east, was 4.1 percent a year. The picture is similar for major cities in other countries in the region.
 
Report: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/22549/9781464806629.pdf?sequence=4
 

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