Indian cities not ready to welcome poor, say experts

Indian cities are now not ready to welcome the poor and the marginalised. Pointing this out during the release ceremony of the “State World’s Cities 2012” report of UN Habitat on Wednesday, experts felt the need of a major change in policy planning to make cities inclusive and prosperous.

With two Indian cities, Mumbai and Delhi sliding to a lower ranking (52 and 58 respectively on the list of 95 cities), largely due to lower rating in productivity and environment, experts are concerned that Indian cities are becoming less and less inclusive. They pointed out that trends of urban-rural migration are visible to show that poorer and marginalised are finding it difficult to continue in cities. 

Between Delhi and Mumbai, the former is higher in infrastructure index but the city lags behind under the four indices of environment, productivity, equity and quality of life. Cities at the top of the list are Vienna (Austria), New York, Toronto, London and Stockholm, and Bamako (Mali), Antananarivo (Madagascar), Conarky (Guinea) and Monrovia (Liberia) are at the bottom of the heap.

Pointing the unsustainable nature of growth in India, Chief Author of UN Habitat report Eduardo Lopez Moreno pointed out that this pushes development to the periphery, resulting in a growing inequality between the rich and the poor.

A K Mishra, secretary in the ministry of housing and poverty alleviation, said that about 58-60 per cent people of urban India do not have an assured source of income and most of the investment in water supply, road, education, health and social services goes to the rich.

He cited a survey, done by his ministry in Maharashtra to say that there on an average, availability of severage facility was 52 per cent in urban areas, but only 2 per cent was available in slum areas.

He also pointed out that a commitment was made to allocate 35 per cent of housing units and 50 per cent of developed land to the poor in Delhi, but it could  never be implemented.  He criticised the policy of transport-led growth and suggested a change of approach to make Indian cities inclusive.

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