Urbanization has occurred at a slower rate in India as compared to the other developing countries, but in the recent times the pace has increased because of the economic growth. Economic reforms have already unleashed investment and growth offering its citizens rich opportunities. India has not paid systematic attention to urbanization so far.
Whereas urbanization has been an instrument of economic, social and political progress, it has led to serious socio-economic problems and challenges. The sheer magnitude of urban population, haphazard and unplanned growth of urban areas, and a desperate lack of infrastructure are the main causes of the problems faced. Poverty, unemployment, underemployment among the rural immigrants, beggary, thefts and other social evils are rampant.
The rapid growth of urban population both natural or migration, has put heavy pressure on public utilities like housing, sanitation, transport, water, electricity, sewerage, health, education and so on.
Urban Sprawl- Urban sprawl or real expansion of cities is the root cause and a major challenge. Massive immigration to the cities from small places, is adding to the size of the city.
Overcrowding- This implies that too many people live in too little space. This is exhibited by big cities in India. This leads to tremendous pressure on infrastructural facilities, like housing, electricity, water etc.
Lack of Housing Options- Overcrowding leads to shortage of houses in urban areas. Where there is influx of migrants who are unemployed and have nowhere to live this is a big challenge.
Unemployment- The problem of unemployment is no less serious than the housing problems. Rural urban migration is a major cause for unemployment. Even though the money earned by a laborer is more in urban areas cost of living is also high.
Slums and Squatter Settlements- The natural sequel of unplanned, unchecked and haphazard growth is the cause of growing slums and squatter settlements. These areas are without any proper sanitation, construction, and totally unhygienic. But this is a price one is paying in urban India.
Transport- Traffic bottlenecks, overcrowding of roads and streets, no place to walk, almost all cities and towns in India are suffering from this acute transport problem. Extra burden is put on public transport.
Water- The most essential element of life, with growing urbanization the availability of water is a major challenge, and acute shortage is the result. Demand is more and supply is less, most of the cities in India face this problem.
Sewerage Problem- Urban areas are almost plagued with insufficient and inefficient sewage facilities.
Trash disposal- As cities are growing in number and size thrash disposal is assuming alarming proportions.
Pollution- This is also on the rise it may be air pollution, smog, noise pollution, all this is a health hazard.
Crime- Urban crimes are on the rise and safety /security at a risk.
Urbanization is a positive step towards progress but it has to be managed well and systematically.
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