Urbanization and Environment
Dr. R. Y. Mahore*, Prof. and Head, Department of Economics, R.T.M. Nagpur University,

Urbanization is the movement of population from rural to urban areas and the resulting increasing proportion of a population that resides in urban rather than rural places. It is derived from the Latin 'Urbs' a term used by the Romans to a city. Urban sociology is the sociology of urban living; of people in groups and social relationship in urban social circumstances and situation. Thompson Warren has defined it as the movement of people from communities concerned chiefly or solely with agriculture to other communities generally larger whose activities are primarily centered in government, trade, manufacture or allied interests. Urbanization is a two-way process because it involves not only movement from village to cities and change from agricultural occupation to business, trade, service and profession but it also involves change in the migrants attitudes, beliefs, values and behavior patterns. The process of urbanization is rapid all over the world. The facilities like education, healthcare system, employment avenues, civic facilities and social welfare are reasons attracting people to urban areas. The census of India defines some criteria for urbanization. These are:
• • • • •

Population is more than 5000 The density is over 400 persons per sq.km 75% of the male population engages in non-agricultural occupations. Cities are urban areas with population more than one lakh. Metropolises are cities with population of more than one million

Urban Poverty Poverty is defined as people's inability to secure the minimum level of subsistence with a person not having adequate income to buy food with total

caloric norms 2150 in urban areas. As of 1999-2000, the proportion of people living below the poverty line estimated for all India stood at 26.10 per cent (27.09 in rural areas and 23.62 in urban areas). Urban Population Density The density of population in urban areas not only reveals the concentration of people in urban areas but also highlights the structural condition of the town/city. Although density is essentially the quotient obtained by division of the population of an area by the extent of the area, the resultant figure enables the following trend analyses while expressing the average population density of the area, it also reveals size and class distribution of the population. 1. Difference in the density of population between the central and outer area. 2. The growth and distribution between of new and old townships. Growth of slum A rapid increase in urban population results in the problems of straining or breaking-down of sanitary facilities and other infrastructure in cities and towns. The local bodies are faced with the responsibility of providing amenities with limited or often scant resources. The net result of this incongruity between the resources and responsibilities not only leads to formation of new slums but also gives new dimensions to the problem of slums. Slums are a formidable problem merely because the gap between resources and demand for shelter tends to exist perpetually. The urban poor by themselves can neither afford to build pucca house or spare the hard earned money for stay in rented houses with basic amenities. Such people encroach Government and private lands kept vacant. Many slums are situated in vulnerable locations like river margins, water logged areas, road margins, etc. The slum population prefers to live in unhygienic conditions and in areas prone to floods and accidents. Water supply


An increasing urban population has been creating a huge gap between demand and supply of water every year. The last Census estimated that approximately only 70 per cent of urban towns have access to safe drinking water. The minimum per capita supply of water required in urban areas varies from 70 lit/day to 130 lit/day, and this requirement of water supply varies according to the land use classification of the towns. Solid Waste Disposal Solid waste is generated in almost all parts of the urban areas and solid waste management becomes complicated in bigger cities. Collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste are the major operations involved in solid waste management. In most cities/towns, the refuse is dumped in an unsatisfactory and haphazard manner without sanitary land fill. The goal is to achieve 100 per cent source segregation, disposal of garbage in a scientific manner and thereby making the habitation areas garbage free and also avoid contamination of natural resources. Privatization of Solid Waste Management has been encouraged in all municipalities and corporations. Self Help Groups are also being involved in Solid Waste Management. A detailed exercise has been undertaken to prepare Action Plans for Solid Waste Management in all Municipalities and Corporations.

Complexity of environmental problems Probably most of the major environmental problems of the next century will result from the continuation and sharpening of existing problems that currently do not receive enough political attention. The problems are not necessarily noticed in many countries or then nothing is done even the situation has been detected. The most emerging issues are climate changes, freshwater scarcity, deforestation, fresh water pollution and population growth. These problems are very complex and their interactions are hard to define. It is very important to examine problems trough the social-economiccultural system. Even the interconnections between environmental problems

are now better known, we still lack exact information on how the issues are linked, on what degree they interact and what are the most effective measures. One problem is to integrate land- and water use planning to provide food and water security (UNEP 1999) to provide the service. Overpopulation The major cause of most environmental problems is the rapidly growing human population. About 90 million babies are born each year. At this rate, by the year 2050, global population will reach 10 billion. The current world population is on average very young and has many years of reproductive life ahead. Because of this the population will grow even the fertility rate seems to decrease. The population growth takes mostly place in developing countries. These countries are in charge of 90 per cent of current population growth. It has been estimated that by the year 2025 even 84 per cent of the world’s people will live in developing regions (ENCARTA 2001). Growing demand for food and facilities Due to the growing population, demands for water, food, housing, heat, energy, clothing, and consume goods are increasing alarmingly. Rapid population growth not only lessens available calorie supply from food per person but also risks the present food production with pollution. Increasing demand forces farmers to exhaust the soil or to use marginal land. The only way to product food to all this population is to create more effective agricultural production. Irrigation is the most important way, because in the future the arable land is not increasing, probably decreasing, due to erosion and land deterioration (ENCARTA 2001, Brookfield and Byron 1993). Problems to food production Plants need water, solar energy and nutrients to grow. Humans can only change few things to help plants to product more, the amount of water and fertilizer. In the areas where these are needed there is also often uncertainty of water supply and lacking of capital for fertilizers. Water and food

availability is closely linked together because of the enormous need of green water. For example, each ton of grain needs 1000 tons of water for successful growth (Allan 1997, Varis 1997b). The quality of water is often threatened in poor areas due to domestic and industrial wastes. Agriculture as well produces numerous side effects to water resources, including erosion, leaching of nutrients, accumulation and wash off of pesticides and heavy metals, increased salinity due to evaporation losses and spearing of various diseases such as schistosomiasis and malaria (Vakkilainen and Varis 1999, Varis 1997b).

Pollutants to air, soil and water Even the industrialized countries, with higher standards of living and greater numbers of cars, produce far more air pollution and greenhouse gases than developing countries, they can reduce environmental hazards by using technology such as smokestack scrubbers, emission systems, and wastewater treatment plants. Developing countries do not have this new technology or capacity to do so. The consumption is far lower but the expensive energy-efficient or clean-up technologies are economically impractical for these countries. For these reasons environmental problems occur more often in developed countries (ENCARTA 2001).

Traffic Almost all cities have changed to motorized road vehicles, which has increased the use of fossil fuels and increased greenhouse-gas emissions. This explosive growth in the number of road vehicles is a big problem in many cities. Many city centers have major difficulties trying to cope with the chaotic automobile traffic. The traffic jams are extremely bad in many cities and transport traffic in the city area at least during the rush-hours is really

slow. The pollution is high due to constant traffic and causes respiratory diseases to city habitants (HABITAT 1996) Water resources The water resources on the earth are locally insufficient because water is not geographically equally divided and seasonal changes are extensive. Some parts of the world’s water resources are inaccessible and cannot be used. In places where the lack of water is most severe the needed water rains so intensively and such a short period during the rainy season to the ground that it will flood and cannot be stored. Heavy rain also fastens the erosion. Engineers are trying to do their best to level the uneven distribution by controlling even greater portion of nature’s water cycle. Dams, water reservoirs and pipelines are also one way to store water for food production, industrial output, and urbanization (Postel 1992). Already 20 per cent of the world's population fall short of access to safe drinking water. This situation is set to worsen dramatically. If current trend holds, per capita water supplies worldwide will drop by more than a third by 2025. This means that 67 per cent of people will live in a water stressed condition. The problem is most acute in Africa and West Asia. In Africa, 14 countries already experience water stress or water shortage. Another 11 countries will join that list in the next 25 years (Somlyódy et al. 2001, Postel 1992). Water quantity needed for humans Adequate quantities of water are required for healthy living: for drinking, cooking and washing. The WHO recommends that the minimum daily amount per person is 27 liters per day. Because of the population growth and urbanization the gap between per capita water supply and demand is getting bigger. Population growth also has an effect on demand of food and sewage disposal facilities. This means bigger demand of irrigation water and bigger water resources. These days in many countries the water demand is between 20 to 40 per cent of the total runoff, even the sustainable amount would be 5 per cent. The demand nowadays in many countries is so massive that it

needs investments and a large part of GNP has to be used for the water management(Vakkilainen and Varis 1999, Kasarda and Parnell 1993). Water quality Even our planet has a great physical, chemical, and biological system to clean waters we humans are even more effective in dirtying it. Fast growth in population, more effective agriculture and industrial development are the main reasons for the growing amount of pollutants in the waters. Wastewater from the human settlements contains organic material and nutrients, industrial wastewater contains heavy metals and complexes, insoluble chemical compounds, which are harmful to people, animals and plants. Fertilizers and pesticides are used in the agriculture and they are harmful for the surface and groundwater, traffic loads air, soil and water and irrigation burdens water with salt. In the developing countries these agglomerations are even worse than in developed countries because they do not have proper sanitation and the technique are often too old and noneffective (Bowman 1994). Salinity Salinity of water is mainly caused by poor irrigation practice. Water logging followed by evaporation will deposit salt in the soil. A constant flow of irrigation water will strip salt from the soil and deposit it when the water evaporates. Soil salinity can not be fixed after it has occurred. Some of the plant species are salttolerant but none of them are important agricultural crops. Salinity is a very big problem for agriculture and food production now and in the future. Humans cannot either stand salt water. Drinking salt water causes vomiting and when used continuously hypertension and madness (Barke 1884). Acidity Coal burning in power stations, factories, and for household usage has increased the quantities of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere. Nitrogen

oxides have also been emitted in the air from engines of different machines and vehicles. These substances are moving with the wind and their influence can be global. When these substances react with water, rain and snow the results are harmful; acidity in water and soil (Bowman 1994). Organic and inorganic substances In many cities wastewater treatment is not used at all. Rivers and water bodies are used like sewers. The high level of organisms in fresh water is related to human and animal excreta, rotten plants and other particles. These organic compounds use oxygen to break up. High amounts of organic substances lead to lack of oxygen in water, which is extremely harmful for plants and fishes living in the water. Chlorinated micro-organisms which are widely used in the industry cause, when leaked into the water, health problems to humans. These health risks cause cancer and birth abnormalities. Inorganic substances are in high amounts injurious to the human health. These substances are, for example, iodine, fluoride, iron, nitrates and selenium. Some substances, which are mutagens and carcinogens, are harmful at any level. Most of these fatal substances are released from agrochemicals used for pest and plant disease control and industrial chemicals (Bowman 1994). Water related diseases Water can affect on human health on many levels; disease-causing agents (pathogens) or pollutants in water, insufficient amounts of fresh water per person, and physical hazards, like flooding. About 90 per cent of the child deaths in developing countries are due to polluted water. In the near future in the study regions half of the population will suffer from one or more of the main diseases associated with inadequate provision of water and sanitation (Harday et. al. 2001). The water related diseases are caused by disease organisms (bacteria, virus, protozoa) as a result of ingestion, insects that transfer pathogens to humans, and ingestion of chemical pollutants or biologically produced toxins. Bacteria and viruses cause diarrhea. This

disease is very common, causing probably 5,000 million infections and 10 million deaths per year. Even the disease is considered common it is very dangerous disease in developing world when combined with malnutrition. On the other hand Cholera is not that hazardous but has gained a lot of attention in Africa and Asia. For comparison 50,000 people have died to Cholera yearly (Bowman 1994, Hillary 1984). Vicious circles Vicious circles means that for instance population growth is closely linked to poor child health, low income, fertility, gender, poverty, education issues, etc. These vicious circles, holistic and integrated face of water has to be taken account. Water management is very much political, social and economical wholeness. For example, development of infrastructure in a city may raise rural urban migration, which surpasses the development. This reaction can be prevented only with some balancing actions in rural areas (Varis 1999, 2001). The city environment The problems that are facing cities, towns, and their people are inadequate financial resources, increased poverty and a widening gap between rich and poor, unsustainable use of land, uncoordinated development and insecure land tenure, lack of green spaces and inadequate water supply and sanitation. These main problems have related to many other smaller problems like, lack of jobs, spreading homelessness and expanding squatter settlements, growing insecurity and rising crime, inadequate and deteriorating building stock, services and infrastructure, lack of health and educational services, rising traffic congestion and more pollution (UN 1996). The primary problem in the Third World is that the cities continue to grow even the city services are being narrowed. According to GEO-2000, "inadequate provision of water, sanitation, drainage and garbage removal" means many people's lives and health are under continuous threat. The problems on the rural areas have driven people into the cities is also a part of the problem (UNEP 1999, Gugler 1997).


Health problems Environmental problems in most of the urban centers are evident. Environment-related diseases or accidents remain among the major causes of illness, injury, and premature death. This is common in the poorer centers of urban areas. Most of these diseases are caused by pathogens in water, food, soil, or air. Burns, scalds, and accidental fires are common in overcrowded shelters, especially where five or more persons live in a small room (Gugler 1997). Crime Violent crime is more visible in the cities than in rural areas and it affects people’s everyday life, their movements and the use of public transportation. Crime in the city can create a sense of insecurity to its habitants. This unsafe feeling in city streets will separate the living areas of the higher-income and lower income groups, which will reduce people’s solidarity and form areas with dissimilar incomes, costs and security level (HABITAT 1996). Housing and Homelessness In the study regions between 33 to 67 per cent of the population live in housing units that are in poor condition. These houses are often made of temporary materials, which do not provide proper protection against temperature changes, winds or rain. The houses are often small and overcrowded and also lack facilities like; piped water supplies, the removal of excreta and solid wastes, drainage and roads. Many migrants move from countryside to live with their relatives, which increase the occupation of rooms. Still this kind of co-operation is the only way for many migrants to start their new life in the city (Harday et.al. 2001, Sajor 2001). Poverty

The percentage of poor people is growing in many countries. Due to such a low income the main goal for the people is to get their daily meal, water and accommodation. For these people the environmental problems are not in the front line. Because of this the solving of environmental problems in developing countries is not easy. The main questions that have to take into account are poverty and welfare of people. Before the basic level of life will be in a bearable state, improvements in environmental conditions are impossible, at least the proper co-operation is not possible (Sajor 2001) Urbanisation causing wetland depletion A recent study by the State Council for Science, Technology and Environment has found that rapid urbanisation and consequent development of infrastructure have taken a heavy toll on the wetlands. on wetland areas for which large-scale reclamation Most of the going on.

government-sponsored projects, especially in urban areas, were coming up was Unauthorised encroachment of wetland areas for non-wetland purposes were still continuing in the State, the report said. It was found that unscientific land use and agricultural practices, along with forest clearing in uplands and in wetland areas, were exerting severe pressure on wetlands. This was also leading to soil erosion, the report said. Experts found that the pollution of wetland ecosystems in the State was considerably high in Vembanad-Kol backwater system following various types of pollution in the upstream areas of the Pampa, Achenkovil and Periyar rivers. Also, salinity intrusion into rivers due to low water level in the summer months makes it unfit for drinking and other uses like irrigation. NEED FOR CHANGE: Economic development and environmental management are complementary aspects of the same agenda. Without adequate environment protection, development will be undermined and without development environmental protection fails. Due to technological advancement we have multiple choices on the development path. One can choose policies and investments which

has environment benefits of efficient use of natural resources there by adopt technologies/options leading to sustainable development. This is the place where professional approach to the development decision making, political commitment, and administrative ability matters. It is a fact we at developing countries massive and daunting problems of meeting power needs for development. Traditional strategy of relying on new generating capacity need to be relooked at. The areas to be tackled on priority is 1. Improving the existing plants productivity. 2. Reduction transmission and distribution losses both technical and nontechnical 3. A strategy on demand side management with command and control as well as economic incentive mix. The above strategy needs technical, institutional, attitudal and policy changes coupled with strong political support. Sustainable Urbanisation The overall increase in urbanization over the decade has not been very dramatic, but its distribution is noteworthy. Nearly 38 per cent of urban India lives in cities of million-plus population—close to 15 per cent in three urban agglomerations (UAs) of over 10 million each, about 9 per cent in five UAs in the range of 3-6 million, and nearly 15 per cent in 27 UAs or cities of 1-3 million. The remaining 62 per cent lives in some 3,600 small and medium towns (5,000-100,000 population) and cities of less than a million. A major part of the growth is directed to about 30 cities in the millionplus category, which added an average of 33 per cent to their populations in a decade. The Urban-Rural Growth Differential continues to be high. This has serious implications for the kind of urbanization happening in India. An important concomitant of development, urbanization has to be viewed in its regional context. The city serves as an important service and exchange centre for its hinterland. It draws upon the resources and assets—material, human and environmental—of the hinterland. Urbanization can be

sustainable only if it has a symbiotic relationship with developmental processes in the hinterland. When physical, chemical and biological projects of the different components of environment: air, water, soil, noise change to the detriment of living of humans it may be said that environment has been affected. Many developing countries are placing more and more reliance on industrialization. It is not only a mechanical but also a social process. Therefore it affects the environment physically as well as socio-culturally. All aspects of pollution are directly or indirectly related to human health and well being. The excessive growth and rush of people from villages to urban areas results in over crowding of cities. Rapid urbanization and industrialization have led to an increase in environmental pollutant load that poses serious public health problem. It also affects the socio-cultural environment with the close ties of groups coming under pressure. Traditional ties are replaced with new work based ones. Religion becomes secular. Thus industrialization affects the social fabric making the society more materialistic Environmental Degradation and Urbanization Vehicles are a major source of pollutants in cities and towns. The concentration of ambient air pollutants in the metropolitan cities as well as many of the Indian cities are high enough to cause increased mortality. The rate of generation of solid waste in urban centers has outpaced population growth in recent years with the wastes normally disposed in low-lying areas of the city’s outskirts (India: State of the Environment 2001). Slum population is a serious problem of the mega-cities of India. A large population of Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi lives in slum, despite of several Government housing policies.. A continuous increase has been found in the percentage of slum population over the last three decades in the four metropolitan cities of India in which Mumbai was highest. In 1981, 31% population of Mumbai was residing in slum, and in 2001 nearly half of Mumbai’s population (49%) was living in slums. However, Kolkata and Delhi had not shown as severe condition as Mumbai. The proportion of slum population was 30% and 18% in 1981 in Kolkata and Delhi, which increased

to 36% and 23% respectively. On the other hand, it is little bit comfortable sign for Kolkata and Delhi that in 2001 the proportion of slum population has decreased to 33% and 19%, respectively. Although Chennai has lowest slum population among the four metropolitan cities yet it has experienced continuous increase in the slum population over the three decades. There were 14% slum population in Chennai in1981, which increased to 15% in 1991 and further 18% in 2001.

Composition of Solid Wastes in the Four Metropolitan Cities of India Among the different solid wastes generated like paper, textiles, leather, plastics, metal, glass, ash etc. and other compostable matters the percentage of ash etc. is the highest. Delh exhibits the highest percentage of ash, which is about 52% of the weight of all the solid waste, followed by Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. The reason that Delhi has the highest percentage of ash as solid waste may lie in the fact that Delhi is a large industrial center with mainly metal industry, which uses coal as a source of power and the number of industries is growing day by day because of the growing urbanization. About 10% of all the solid waste generated in the metropolitan cities is paper. Textile waste generation ranges between 3 to 5%. Leather waste is generated mostly by Chennai and generated lowest in Mumbai. Kolkata generates the largest amount of plastics among all the metros, which accounts for 8% of all the weight of the solid waste materials. This is a serious problem and will increase in future because of increase in packaging of consumer’s goods, if proper management will be not available. Also this has an irreversible health hazards. Treatment in Metropolitan Cities: Like air pollution, water pollution is also one of the increasing problems due to the growing population. Water resources are diminishing not just because of large population numbers but also because of wasteful consumption and neglect of conservation. With rapid urbanization and industrialization, huge

quantities of wastewater enter rivers. The volume of domestic wastewater generation is highest in the metropolitan city of Mumbai, which is 2228.1 ml/d followed by Kolkata (1383 ml/d) and Delhi (1270 ml/d) and the lowest is in Chennai (only 276 ml/ d). The generation of industrial wastewater is also highest in Mumbai. Again looking at the percentage of wastewater collection from the four metropolitan cities, Chennai and Mumbai performs better than Delhi and Kolkata. Regarding the treatment of the collected wastewater in all the metro cities, the water is disposed only after primary and secondary treatment. Again the collected wastewater in Mumbai is mainly disposed off in the Arabian Sea and in Kolkata some amount is disposed in the Hugli river and the rest is used in the fish farming. However, in Delhi and Chennai the waste-water is mainly used for agricultural works and the remaining water is disposed in the Yamuna river in Delhi and in the Bay of Bengal in Chennai. Urbanisation, Development and Environment The symbiotic relationship between urbanization and development that had been obtained in the industrialized countries of the West, was not found to be replicated in case of developing countries because of the differential roles of the capitalist development. Spatial development pattern in these countries became uneven as also the pattern of urbanization, evident in the differentials between core and periphery at various scales. Resultantly, large cities in such countries have become centers of population and economic activities as well as extractors of regional resources, but not foci of regional development. Environmental degradation has further surfaced as an associated element of such growth, both in urban and rural areas. In recent years operation of international capital has intensified the pattern further leading to extreme metropolitanisation and intra-regional disparity. It is in this backdrop the book analyses the complex pattern of urbanization, development and the environmental situation primarily in India in longitudinal terms. It deals with the wise range of topics on economy, society and environment both at general and spatial scales, linking theoretical discussions with empirical analyses Public-private partnerships

There are two types of public-private partnerships that have emerged with respect to urban infrastructure: 1. Involvement of NGOs in provision of public services like solid waste collection. 2. Private firm or agency enters into an agreement/ contract Reference: 1. State of Environment Report, 2001, Government of India. 2. Maiti Sutapa and Agrawal Praween, (2004), “Environmental Degradation in the Context of Growing Urbanisation: A Focus on the Metropolitan Cities of India.” International Institute for Population Sciences, G.S. Road, Deonar, Mumbai.

3. www.iied.org
4. Banerjee S. and Phadke, V.S., (2007), “Urabanisation, Development and Environment”, Rawat Publications.

5. www.sociologyguide.com

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