India’s changing cities

It’s been said a million times before: India is evolving rapidly and nowhere is this more visible than in its cities. People are arriving in the cities in droves, in search of higher education opportunities and solid job prospects, with many arguing this places India’s cities’ already-stressed resources under further duress.

Author Anna Rees, 09.04.12

It’s been said a million times before: India is evolving rapidly and nowhere is this more visible than in its cities. People are arriving in the cities in droves, in search of higher education opportunities and solid job prospects, with many arguing this places India’s cities’ already-stressed resources under further duress.

According to the Indian Institute of Human Settlement, the trend towards urban migration increased from 21.2% in 1991-2001 to 24.1% in 2001-2011, with the two largest migration channels seeing people leave Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and head for Delhi. 

As India’s most populated city, Mumbai constantly has to adapt and accommodate to its more than 12 million inhabitants. With population density estimates for the city hovering at around 20,482 persons per square kilometer, it goes without saying that natural open spaces in the city can be hard to come by. A recent study by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Environment Improvement Society found that only 10 square kilometers of a possible 30 square kilometers of open space in the city are being used and made accessible to the public, while bodies of water are even scarcer. 

One of the key underlying issues surrounding urbanization in India is the proper management and distribution of resources, and, more specifically, how people can go about their lifestyles without placing huge pressure on natural resources and the environment in general. These days, in light of rapid urbanization, there is somewhat of an unspoken imperative for city-dwellers to actively seek out sustainable living measures. As we become more and more aware of the huge impact humans have had on the environment, this imperative is growing. But that thought in itself can be overwhelming. The answer to the question “what can I do to live more sustainably” is long and, at times, complicated and sometimes it does seem easier to turn a blind eye and rationalize that a solution is beyond us. But time and time again, cases of people making small but smart changes to their lifestyles have shown that, in fact, there are simple measures we all can take to minimize the strain on a city’s resources.

Over the course of this month, we will look at various ways of living sustainably in the city, highlighting topics such as eco-friendly household appliances, the government’s recent push towards electric vehicles and tips on how (and why) to plant your own kitchen garden. Keep checking back for updates.

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Sustainable Cities

In today’s fast paced world, a city is not merely a place to live, it’s a catalyst in the process of economic and social growth and innovation.