Q. The suburbanisation occurring at a relatively early stage of India’s urban development is creating new challenges for Indian cities. Enumerate the reasons and suggest remedies.

Approach:

  • Brief introduction about suburbanisation phenomenon in most urbanising countries.
  • Enumerating the reasons why it is occurring at a relatively early stage of India’s urban development.
  • Highlight the challenges it is creating for Indian cities and suggest ways forward.

Model Answer

A 2013 World Bank report, “Urbanization beyond Municipal Boundaries”, found that suburban areas (or Suburbs) are generating higher economic growth and employment than the city. Although “suburbanization” is a worldwide phenomenon, it usually occurs in middle to advanced stages of development. In India, it’s happening much more quickly in India than expected.

Reasons:

  • Inadequacy of cities to provide affordable and quality options has resulted in suburbanization. 
  • Suburbs are seen as safer and cheaper place to live and raise a family due to lower population density, lower crime, and a more stable population.
  • Increasing land prices and office rents have pushed companies to suburban areas.
  • With increased incomes, people have the ability to pay more to travel and commute longer distances to work and back home.
  • Indian cities impose quite draconian land use regulations, rent control system and building height restrictions on their cities lead to excessive suburbanization.
  • Suburban municipalities can offer tax breaks and regulatory incentives to attract
  • industrial land users to their area.
  • The development of robust and sophisticated infrastructure is possible only in the peripheries of the city where land is available in plenty and the cost of acquisition is low.
  • Growth of urban agglomerations poses many economic, ecological and institutional
  • challenges which are as follows:
  • Access to – and the quality of – water, sanitation, and electricity is much worse in the urban periphery than at the core.
  • Access to quality and affordable health and education services.
  • With commercialization of agricultural land and encroachment on forest , the areas ecosystem of the region is threatened.  
  • Unplanned urbanisation and uncontrolled encroachment of natural water storage and drainage systems has spelt disaster.
  • Proponents of containing suburbanization argue that it leads to urban decay and a concentration of lower income residents in the inner city.

Solution to the woes of our cities requires a holistic approach to urban reform.

  • Steps are required to address the lacunae in the current rural-urban categorization system.
  • Provide efficient services and reform governance structures to boost overall economic development.
  • India requires robust institutional mechanism to govern land use conversion and land valuation.
  • The efforts to leverage the potential of land markets as a financing tool needs to be complemented by an integrated urban planning process.
  • Indian cities also need to improve connectivity between metropolitan cores and peripheries to ensure ease of mobility for individuals and business.

Third and fifth five year plans advised urban planning to adopt regional approach and to create metropolitan planning regions to take care of the growing areas outside administrative city limits. We need to improve existing urban amenities while simultaneously addressing the problems of suburban sprawl. 

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