Urban areas are growing on a very fast rate in developing countries as well as developed world. It is estimated that by the end of this century, fifty percent population will live in urban areas, which are only three percent of the total landmass. In the present decade, at least eighty percent population growth occurs in towns and cities. The situation is more alarming in the developing nations, where eighty percent of the total population of the world will be there within the next twenty five years. Out of twenty largest cities, seventeen will be there in the developing world by the end of this decade. City authorities in India as well as in other developing countries are unable to provide them basic infrastructure and services. In most of the larger cities, 30-60 percent people are living in squatter settlements. The population density in some older parts of the cities has reached upto about 2500 persons per hectare. Though, nearly ten hectare fertile land is encroached by urbanisation every day, still there are areas in some of the cities like Delhi and Calcutta, where population density is more than 150 thousand persons per sq. km. (walled city of Delhi - 166,300 persons per sq. km.)
Some of the urban agglomerations today accommodate more than 10.0 million persons. According to a recent estimate, by 2015, India will have 34 cities in the population size range of 1.5 million and above, 4 of which would have crossed 10.0 million mark, with the city of Mumbai having the largest concentration of more than 27 million !! According to the estimate, the population of these 34 cities altogether would still be increasing at an average annual rate of about 2.8 per cent (UNDP/UNCHS (Habitat)/ World Bank, 1996). Such concentration trends in the demographic scenario of the developing world would surely subject its cities to greater risk to life and property due to extreme environmental stress, and due to impending disasters.
Manu and Anshu, UEMRI-India
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