Urbanization in India characteristics population issues, poverty and development

Discussion on the recent trends in urbanisation in India and briefly describing the main characteristics and problems of the major Indian cities. 
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The variation in the share of urban population to total population across the states is high. 
A large proportion of urban population is
currently concentrated in six most developed states, namely Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab and West Bengal, accounting for about half of the country's urban population.

North East NE states have recorded rapid pace of urbanization due to the process of their becoming economically integrated with the national economy. 

The smaller towns in the backward states, on the other hand, have languished economically and reported low or negative demographic growth, many of them even failing to meet the criteria for being classified as urban centre.

Characteristics of cities:

Most Indian cities have not separated residential and other functions to the same extent as occidental towns.

Large numbers of towns are primarily administrative: they may have been local commercial centres and market villages picked as headquarters of districts or their sub-divisions mainly on account of centrality.

Problems of major cities:

1. Urban Sprawl

Indian cities have grown tremendously—not only in population, but in geographic size. For instance, Delhi’s urban area has almost doubled in the last 20 years. Sprawling cities and reliance on automobiles have contributed to traffic congestion, air pollution, rising greenhouse gas emissions, and poor public health.

2. Traffic Safety and Accessibility

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 10 percent of the world’s road fatalities (130,000) occur in India alone. Safety and accessibility are key components of ensuring that cities become secure, sustainable places to live.

3. Future Real Estate Development

Development of infrastructure by least pollutant methods is biggest challenge to future estate development.

Urbanization has seen a new trend in India against old tradition of developing growth poles like metropolitan cities, small towns and districts are being developed at least with minimum basic facility requirements.Government programmes like JNNURM,100 smart city,Digital India, swatch bharat abhiyan, new impetus in real estate development along with well planned urban area having facility of highway connectivity,planned sewage system, world class railway stations, small airports, AIIMS and similar facility hospitals in other cities,educational institutes, development of tourism etc.has helped in distributive urbanization of various town and cities.

Main characteristics of major Indian cities are:

1)Well planned world class infrastructure which are well equipped to cope up increasing population load like road,buildings,electricity,water supply, health etc.

2)They have become major center for employment including Manufacturing, business ,IT and other service sector hubs.

3)They are one of the big tourism destinations.This reflects the way of urbanization without destruction of their rich heritage ex- Delhi, kolkata .

Problems of major cities :

1)Increasing migration of people from undeveloped regions exerts huge pressure on city infrastructure.

2)Urban sprawl and slow pace of development in order to accommodate this increasing population.

3)tremendous traffic results in pollution affecting health of residents.

4)Hectic schedule of life and unhealthy eating habits has resulted into various psychological disorders and other diseases.

India being a developing country can always re-look into its urbanization programme to effectively curb all kinds of short comings which present few major cities face.Sustainable development, in order to provide all basic facilities, to all towns and districts so that need of migration itself can be reduced, can help in better modernization of whole India.

Urban heat island effect?

An urban heat island is the name given to describe the characteristic warmth of both the atmosphere and surfaces in cities (urban areas) compared to their (non-urbanized) surroundings. The heat island is an example of unintentional climate modification when urbanization changes the characteristics of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

Causes of Urban Heat Island:

1.Reduced vegetation in urban regions :

Reduces the natural cooling effect from shade and evapotranspiration.

2.Properties of urban materials:

Materials commonly used in urban areas for pavement and roofs, such as concrete and asphalt, have significantly different thermal bulk properties and surface radiative properties than the surrounding rural areas. This causes a change in the energy balance of the urban area, often leading to higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas.

3.Urban geometry:

The height and spacing of buildings affects the amount of radiation received and emitted by urban infrastructure. The tall buildings within many urban areas provide multiple surfaces for the reflection and absorption of sunlight, increasing the
efficiency with which urban areas are heated.


Certain conditions, such as clear skies and calm winds, can foster urban heat island formation.

5.Geographic location:

Proximity to large water bodies and mountainous terrain can influence local wind patterns and urban heat island formation.

6.Human Activities :

Air conditioning, manufacturing, transportation, fossil fuel combustion and other human activities discharge heat into urban environments.

7.Pollution :

High levels of pollution in urban areas can also increase the UHI, as many forms of pollution change the radiative properties of the atmosphere.

Consequences of Urban Heat Islands:

1.Impaired air quality :

Warmer air accelerates the formation of smog (ozone) from airborne pollutants like nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Elevated demand for cooling energy in the form of Air conditioning and Refrigerator use can also increase the emission of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from fossil-fuel power plants.

2.Impact on Health :

Higher air temperatures and lower air quality can cause heat-related and respiratory illnesses,

3.Effect on Weather :

It may also increase cloudiness and precipitation in the city, as a thermal circulation sets up between the city and surrounding region.

4.Impact on Plants and Forest :

High temperatures may create disturbances on ornamental plants and urban forests.

5.Impact on water bodies :

It may increase temperatures of urban water bodies which lead to a decrease in diversity in the water.

To reduce the effect of urban heat island,there is need to decrease anthropogenic heat emissions through energy efficiency technologies in the building and vehicle sectors.Also there is need to modify vegetative cover and surface properties of urban materials.

Urban heat island is phenomenon in which average temperature of pockets of metropolitian area is higher than that of surrounding towns.

Causes of creation of heat islands are
1) Evapotranspiration rate in the city is lower than that of the villages so heat get trapped and results in elevated temperature.
2) Dry impervious surfaces are high in the cities like pavements, roads etc. That absorb heat in day time but evaporate very slowly.
3)Tall buildings, less trees and type of building materials are also responsible for high temp.
4)Higher industrial pollution as compared to surrounding towns.

Consequences of Urban heat island

1) Impared water quality.
2) Elevated emission of air pollutants and GHG.
3)Compramised human health.
4)Impared water Quality.

There are some good consequences also such as increased life cycle of plant in Urban Area and relatively less chilly winter nights but that did not qualify as conciliatory argument. 

Reducing pollution,environment friendly building structures and increasing canopy of trees in the cities are some of the measures we should apply for mitigating this effect. It is high time stressing on these measures while we are going to develop smart cities.


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