There is a plan to build five new mega cities all along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). These cities will be developed in Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra with the help of private players. All of them will be more in size in comparison to the Navi Mumbai, which covers 345 square kilometers of area. First of these five greenfield cities is Dholera of Gujarat and this city will be developed in an area of 360 square kilometers. Some other states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are also planning to develop some new cities.
The Government attributes this move to rising urban population. According to McKinsey Global Institute 2010 report, “Around 590 million people will be living in Indian cities by 2030. An investment of $ 1.2 trillion will be required to meet projected demand in India’s cities, and about 700-900 million sq meters of land space needs to be developed.” The report suggests that India will require 20-25 new cities in the next 30 years, near the largest 20 metropolitans by providing adequate infrastructure.
But, there is an important question regarding this. Will the problems of urban people be solved after developing new cities like these? It may be possible that these new cities will create some new jobs and attract huge investments and because of this these mega cities will contribute in the country’s GDP. But what about the basic amenities needed in a city? Not a single metro city of India can claim that they are not facing power crunch and water shortage. Then, why the policy makers are trying hard to develop new mega cities instead of improving basic infrastructure of existing cities?
Indian cites are in worst condition in terms of providing basic facilities to its residents. According to a World Bank study, of 27 Asian cities with population of over one million, Chennai and Delhi are ranked as the worst performing metropolitan cities in terms of hours of water availability per day, while Mumbai is ranked as second worst performer and Calcutta fourth worst. In Rajkot, Gujarat, water availability is only for 30 minutes every alternate day.
New Delhi is the national capital, notwithstanding this city is struggling to supply water and electricity adequately. According to a study, In Delhi approximately 13 percent households do not receive water every day. With a population of 5.7 million, Bangalore is India’s fifth largest city. As per the estimates of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), the total demand of water is 840 million litres per day (MLD) but there is a demand supply gap of 135MLD.
Existing cities are even unable to treat the waste generated by them. According to a CPCB report, the biggest cities in India are only treating 50 per cent of sewage they generate. The report shows that 35 cities of country are pumping 7,604 million liters of sewage per day into rivers and the sea. Delhi produces 3,800 liters of sewage every day and 40 percent of this waste goes to Yamuna. In terms of sewage generation, Delhi is leading the chart.
This reflects, how badly basic infrastructure of existing cities needs to be improved. Government is raising tax rates, increasing petroleum prices and putting so many financial burdens on common men in the name of development and building infrastructure. But, keeping the current scenario in mind, it seems that nothing is happening on the front of providing at least basic amenities to urban population. Building flyovers and bridges may appear good but the acute crisis of water and electricity overshadowed all these rosy efforts. Instead of planning to develop more mega cities, government must work hard to improve the situation of existing cities.
Some policy makers can argue that keeping the increase in urban population in mind, new mega cities needs to be developed. The urban population is increasing because villagers and residents of small towns are coming to big cities in search of job. For this, building new mega cities is not a solution. Government should work to check the problem of internal migration.