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With 25 million people, Delhi is facing urbanisation crisis

by Trisha Mahajan | Reuters
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 08:52 GMT

Schoolchildren take part in the Independence Day celebrations in front of the historic Red Fort in Delhi, on August 15, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

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Cities like Delhi cannot accommodate so many people and are not developing fast enough

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Home to 25 million people - more than the population of Australia - New Delhi has become the world's second most populous city after Tokyo, but it is struggling to meet the needs of its burgeoning population.

Experts say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new government will have to plan well to ensure basic services, such as schools, healthcare, housing, water and sanitation, and jobs, are available as the numbers continue to grow.

"What most of the cities are facing is the planning and management of urbanisation. Whether it has to do with education, health or employment services," Frederika Meijer, head of U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), told Reuters in an interview this week.

According to the report by the U.N.'s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, more than half of the world's 7 billion people live in urban areas, with the top megacities being Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Mexico City and Sao Paulo.

As more people migrate from rural areas to towns and cities, combined with overall population growth, the number of people in cities is forecasted to increase by 2.5 billion over the next three decades, said the "World Population Prospects" report released earlier this month.

However, services in cities like Delhi cannot accommodate so many people and are not developing fast enough.

Poor infrastructure has given rise to numerous slums across the city. Water and power shortages, inadequate healthcare facilities, dilapidated schools, are common in India's urban areas.

Sociology expert Gomati Bodra says that while migration cannot be stopped, better quality facilities can be provided in smaller cities and rural areas to entice people to stay.

"You see that there is a large number of (migrants) from the rural areas to urban cities. And it is not only happening with Delhi, but of course Mumbai, Bangalore, all the major cities are having this problem," Bodra said, adding that it is very important “to develop other cities also, like the small towns, small state capitals like Raipur, Indore, Ranchi. These have to be developed simultaneously."

(Editing by Nita Bhalla and Alisa Tang: nita.bhalla@thomsonreuters.com and alisa.tang@thomsonreuters.com)

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