The Challenges And Opportunities Of Urbanization In India

– Anil Pharande, Chairman – Pharande Spaces

Most of the populations across the globe either live in cities or are headed there. It is estimated that by the year 2050, more than two-third of the world’s population will be settled in urban areas. The trend is already in place, with more than a million people shifting to cities every year. For countries like India, migration to developed and developing cities is driven by job opportunities and a better quality of life. However, rapid urbanization also brings its own challenges.

The Challenges In India

The relationship between population migration, urbanization and economic growth is complex. For developed countries like the USA or the European nations, there is a positive correlation between urbanization and per capita income. However, the equation is not as simple when we are talking of less developed countries like India. There is a thin margin between urbanization and overpopulation, and in many large Indian cities, the ‘carrying capacity’ has always been reached. Some relevant examples are Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore, where new migrants face a scarcity of affordable accommodation.

Pharande Vaarivana Pune

It is important to understand the changes that migration to urban centres brings along. Urban growth or urbanization invariably feeds increasing industrialization and commercialization, which impacts the environment as well as infrastructural capabilities of a city. Increasing population also leads to continually expanding urban development and in the case of India, local Governments are continually challenged to deliver the necessary institutional, economic and managerial capabilities that such expansion requires. With lack of proper housing, most of the migrating population – especially those coming from the rural areas – settle for slums and other unregulated/unorganized living options.

Urban Congestion

The rapid inward migration in cities like Mumbai, Pune and Delhi has given rise to clogging and other problems like faulty water management and unnatural changes to the environment. The rapid creation of settlements in the peripheries of these saturated cities makes it impossible for the concerned city planning authorities to gauge and counter the changes to the natural environment and implement necessary sanitation and other necessary infrastructure.

Hijacked Environment

Major environmental issues encountered around clogging settlements include land degradation, resource depletion, decreased public health, loss of resilience in the ecosystem and unsafe residential standards. Health hazards are rampant as clogged settlements encourage flooding, degradation of natural resources like water table and air quality, faulty or non-existent drainage systems, inefficient or non-existent sewage treatment facilities and transport systems.

Pharande Vaarivana Pune

As a matter of fact, India faces a major threat from water pollution. Untreated sewage water being discharged into our existing water systems has been deemed the single-largest cause of surface and ground water pollution. The problems include lack of sufficient water treatment facilities and faulty maintenance where they do exist. Migration contributes to this problem, and the untreated waste water leads to serious hygiene issues. As per the reports by the World Health Organization, only 209 out of 3,119 cities have sewage treatment facilities, and just 8 of them have a full-fledged wastewater treatment facility.

Success Story – PCMC, Pune

There are ways to handle the mounting problems associated with heavy urbanization. The first and foremost is the development of low-cost and affordable housing projects around developing cities. The second is a proactive town-planning approach wherein urbanization is anticipated rather than reacted to, and necessary infrastructure to accommodate inward migration is put in place before it actually arrives.

Pharande Vaarivana Pune

Cities like the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) of Pune have demonstrated that this forward-looking approach works brilliantly in India. In PCMC, the town planning authorities identify areas of future urbanization, equip them with proper drainage systems, water supply, waste management and transport infrastructure and only then open them up to the migrating population.

Along with environmental and health issues, inward migration also affects the inherent culture of the city – and at least in this case, the change is invariably a positive one. With people flooding in from across the country, the host city is exposed to a variety of cultures and eventually adopts new cultural norms. This is the essence of ‘cosmopolitanization’ – the process in which a city evolves from its traditional cultural boundaries and becomes more and more accommodating to new influences.

This is a very desirable process which ‘future proofs’ a city and ensures that urbanization is progressive and not regressive. A city’s cosmopolitan ethos is born out of constituent cultural elements from various other cities and parts of the world, resulting in an urban mindset which is able to embrace positive change in the form of new economic opportunities and better lifestyle standards.

The process of cosmopolitanization in PCMC has resulted in a rapid shedding of the previous regional/industrial image and the emergence of a truly evolved global ethos. The ‘Citizens First’ approach which has driven the rational and progressive urbanization of cities like PCMC and other global cities must always be the central focus if India is to tackle its mounting problems of inward migration.

About The Author:

Pharande Vaarivana PuneAnil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in Western Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces and an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a diverse range of real estate products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran. The luxury township Puneville at Punavale in West Pune is among the company’s latest premium offerings. Woodsville in Moshi is another highly successful PCMC-based township by Pharande Spaces which is now in its 3rd phase.

How Infrastructure Drives Real Estate Demand

– Anil Pharande, Chairman – Pharande Spaces

All property investors are familiar with the phrase ‘market drivers’, which has become one of the most utilized terms in real estate investment. What exactly are market drivers? They can be explained as advancements within a region which boost the overall worth of the location, and the desirability associated with residing there. It is a well-established fact that the infrastructure of an area is a key criterion for home buyers, and therefore property investors.

Infrastructure has numerous types. For instance, roads are considered key infrastructure, as they enhance the connectivity of the area. There is also civic infrastructure, which involves the availability of public services in the region. In India, the primary aspects covered under civic infrastructure are reliable water and electricity supply, without which an area falls flat as a residential location and therefore as a real estate investment destination.

Pharande Vaarivana Pune

Then there is the factor of social infrastructure, which accounts for the liveability of the area. At the most basic level, civic infrastructure will include public transport and shopping outlets, but educational institutions and hospitals are also important. People expect to have colleges, schools and healthcare facilities close to where they live. Therefore, the level of saturation of social infrastructure will play a big role in the overall value of the location as a residential and investment destination.

The global standard for urbanization which is evident in most developed countries is that all or most of infrastructure required to make an area livable and desirable as a real estate destination are set up prior to or opening it up for large-scale real estate development. This is because efforts to put the necessary infrastructure in place retrospectively results in inconvenience to the existing population because of decreased public mobility during construction of such projects.

Retrospective construction of infrastructure projects also pollutes the environment during the actual construction process, and this is nothing but bad news in an area which is already inhabited.

Creating the infrastructure which is required to make a location liveable and also supportive to various economic functions can be compared to creating vast green cover in an area . In both instances, there is a primary requirement of adequate space. Another vital factor for successful infrastructure creation is time. In the case of trees, the root systems must be given adequate time to penetrate deep enough to provide anchorage as well as access to deep-lying groundwater. Similarly, infrastructure must be given enough time to be deployed, become functional and start servicing the area properly. Without space and time, both forestation and infrastructure creation become futile exercises.

Pharande Vaarivana Pune

If we take the cases of Pune and the adjoining Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), we see a vast difference in successful infrastructure deployment. In Pune, the PMC has been unsuccessfully trying to provide retrospective infrastructure support to its massively congested and largely dysfunctional city areas.

Almost every new infrastructure project in Pune is hotly contested by local political parties and becomes road blocked by bureaucratic red tape. One of the reasons is that these projects affect already populated areas, which represent vote banks. The result is that most of these projects take ages to be built, and many are eventually shelved altogether.

The advantage that the PCMC has enjoyed is that it follows a proactive rather than reactive approach to infrastructure creation. In other words, massive Greenfield areas are taken up by the town planning authorities for infrastructure creation, and only then  opened up for further development by private builders. This has resulted in extremely viable, plug-and-play residential neighbourhoods and commercial districts which start delivering the goods from day one.

This proactive approach to infrastructure has earned PCMC the distinction of being one of India’s most sought-after destinations to live and work in. PCMC’s superior infrastructure has attracted the highest number of multinational companies and industries to the region, and this has also led to the highest rate of employment creation in PCMC. As a result, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has emerged as the most preferred city for home buyers who are looking to live close to where they work – and simultaneously enjoy a superior quality of life.

About The Author:

Pharande Vaarivana PuneAnil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in Western Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces and an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a diverse range of real estate products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran. The luxury township Puneville at Punavale in West Pune is among the company’s latest premium offerings. Woodsville in Moshi is another highly successful PCMC-based township by Pharande Spaces which is now in its 3rd phase.