India’s Urban Population Will Explode In Coming Decades, But Climate Change Will Make Conditions Harsher: Report

India’s Urban Population Will Explode In Coming Decades, But Climate Change Will Make Conditions Harsher: Report

India’s urban population is projected to explode in the coming decades, but climate change will make living conditions in the cities harsher than ever, news agency AFP reported. 

The population of Mumbai, one of India’s biggest metropolises, increased by about eight million people in the past 30 years. This is roughly equivalent to the population of New York. Now, the population of Mumbai is almost 21 million, and is projected to increase by seven million by 2035. 

What is the condition of Indian megacities?

While Indian megacities have witnessed increases in population, their housing, transport, water and waste management infrastructure have not kept pace. Around 40 per cent of people in Mumbai are living in slums, an AFP report says. 

There are several dilapidated buildings in Mumbai, a huge contrast to the posh neighbourhoods, one of India’s richest locations. People living in poor conditions often do not have regular water, proper sanitation, clean food or power supply. 

The world’s population is reaching eight billion, with the increase occurring mostly in developing countries. 

People living on the outskirts of Mumbai need to travel for hours to work. Many people hang out of doors on packed trains, while others travel by car or motorbike on dilapidated roads filled with potholes. 

A person named Mohammed Sartaj Khan came from rural Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai’s biggest slum, Dharavi, as a teenager. He works in a tannery, the report says. 

Quoting Khan, the report says that his childhood was wonderful in the village and it has a peaceful environment unlike the crowd in Dharavi. 

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He added that when he came to Mumbai, he saw people running like ants. But he also said that people in his village do not have money. Initially, he earned Rs 6,000 a month in Mumbai, the report says. But now, he operates a machine and makes four times the money he earlier used to earn, he added. 

Premature deaths in India could increase by beginning of next century

India’s population will increase from its current 1.4 billion to overtake that of China, and reach 1.7 billion in the 2060s, the United Nations (UN) projects. However, the population will drop back to 1.5 billion by the beginning of the next century. 

About 270 million more people will live in Indian cities by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. This will result in increased carbon emissions due to higher power generation and greater use of transport. Also, the production of steel and concrete to house people will increase. 

In Indian megacities, overcrowding, dilapidated infrastructure, polluted air and water, and noise pollution are common sights. 

Every day, about 70 per cent of the billions of litres of sewage produced in urban centres goes untreated, the AFP report says, citing a government report from last year. 

India’s capital, New Delhi, which has a population of 20 million, becomes smothered in smog during winter. According to a Lancet study, air pollution led to almost 17,500 premature deaths in 2019. 

Droughts and floods in India

Since millions of people in Indian cities do not have access to regular running water, they are dependent on water deliveries by truck or train. 

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While groundwater levels are declining, people in Delhi and other regions continue digging deep wells. 

In the summer of 2019, Chennai ran out of water. The crisis is believed to have occurred due to insufficient rains and urbanisation of former wetlands.

While many regions in India face the problem of droughts, there are several urban areas in which floods are extremely common. 

Bengaluru witnesses some of India’s worst traffic congestion. 

Since global warming is making local weather more volatile, natural catastrophes are projected to result in extreme misery for Indian cities.

The annual monsoon rainy season is becoming more erratic and powerful, scientists believe. This has resulted in more floods than ever.

Indian summers have become even more scorching due to rising temperatures and heat island effect in urban areas. India witnessed its hottest March on record this year. 

India’s overcrowding is a major problem because people will be at increased risk of disease during future epidemics.