The urbanisation of India is taking place at a faster rate than in the rest of the world. By 2030, 40.76 per cent of India’s population will be living in urban areas compared to about 28.4 per cent now. So says the United Nations’ ‘State of the World Population 2007’ report, which was released on Tuesday.
But at the same time, the report adds, metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Kolkata have a far greater number of people moving out than coming in. It also says that a few cities will be the size doomsayers had predicted in the 1970s. Mega cities are still dominant but they have not grown to the size once projected and have consistently declined in most world regions, the report says.
Releasing the report in India, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy said urbanisation was a sign of liberalisation but the condition of slum-dwellers was even worse than that of the poor in villages.
According to the report, over 90 per cent of slum-dwellers live in developing countries with China and India accounting for 37 per cent of them. About 56 per cent of the urban population lives in slum conditions. The report also says that in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the literacy rate of women living in slums is as low as 52 per cent.
For countries like India, the report says, getting ready for the aging population is another big challenge. In Chennai, it says, total fertility rate has fallen to below replacement levels. The city has closed down 10 maternity clinics and reopened them as geriatric units.
Nesim Tumkaya, United National Population Fund representative in India, said that by next year, half of the world’s population would be living in urban areas. But in most regions, the rate of urbanisation is showing a decline except in growing economies like India.
The population of towns and cities in developing countries like India is set to double in the space of a generation, while the urban population in the developed world is expected to grow relatively lower, the report says.
In comparison to the urban population growth rate, the world’s rural population is expected to decrease by some 28 million between 2005 and 2030.