Urbanisation is accelerating in India. In 2008, 340 million people lived in urban areas; by 2030, the figure will be close to 600 million. Towns and cities offer residents work and lifestyle opportunities that are impossible in the countryside. Businesses benefit from a large consumer base and skilled workers. About 65% of national income is generated in urban areas today, particularly in services like IT, where a young, tech-savvy population gives India a competitive edge. More people in the cities also translates into increased levels of air pollution, which is far beyond the limits in many Indian cities due to sources from within among others from vehicles as well as dust from open areas, usage of fuels for cooking, burning of waste, burning of crop residue by farmers, industrial emissions and construction work.
India’s abundance of young people creates enormous potential for growth, as long as cities provide the conditions they need to flourish. The Indian government hopes to make cities throughout India ‘smart’, where technology enables all-natural resources - water, energy, air, trees and people - to interact intelligently and in harmony.
Sustainable urban development is also dependent on making best use of available land - the country occupies 2.4% of the world’s land and is home to some 18% of global population. Land is scarce and competition among different users is fierce. Industrialisation and urban sprawl can encroach on agricultural land, exacerbating the already complex problem of feeding the growing population.
GIZ is working with central, state and local government bodies in India to address the challenges of planning both rural and urban development in a holistic, integrated way. With land at a premium, spatial planning techniques help reconcile the needs of rural, urban and industrial users. Cities will be ‘smart’ only if residents have adequate housing, access to basic services like water, sanitation and affordable transport, and a liveable environment that is resilient and resource efficient. India’s development will be sustainable only if it is people-centred and its fruits are shared also with the most vulnerable, men, women and children, in the cities and the countryside.