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Urban Migration Shrinking Metro Cities

As the world celebrates World Population Day, the nation has much to worry. While the land per person is diminishing, the metropolitan cities are witnessed as havens providing numerable opportunities. But the question arises, till when can these cities bear the burden? (Photos by Shareen Sharma)

Four children and a wife to feed. Mohan had little choice but to migrate to the city with his family far away from his village in West Bengal. His wife Nargis, works as domestic help in a locality in Gurugram while Mohan works as an auto driver. They earn enough to make it through the day.

As the world celebrates the World Population Day, for India the figures pertaining to population are worrisome. India is estimated to surpass China as the most populated country by 2024. According to the World Bank Data (2015), India’s population stands at 1.31 billion. Consequently, the estimates of Aadhaar enrollment in 2015 put the population at 1.28 billion. With the fast growing population, comes the concern of employment, education, healthcare and nutrition. And, all these concerns are resulting in the vast spread of urban migration increasing the burden for the metropolitan cities.

Rural-urban migration has been a practice since India gained independence. Even after 70 years of freedom, the rural villages have failed to provide economic opportunities to its citizens. The major source of income across the rural sector remains to be agriculture. But there is limited land. Agriculture can no longer satisfy the needs and wants of the villagers. Also, the phenomenon of seasonal employment has failed to provide a constant means of income for the farmers. The increase in population has inevitably resulted in rural mobility.

In many orthodox villages, the identity of an individual decides their work limiting his or her employment opportunities but as a migrant in an urban city; it holds little or no value. Their social position and status is shadowed by their skills and willingness to work. The relative, friend, acquaintance who travelled to the city years ago always has the capacity to call their dear ones to the city to offer a job role with marginally continuous income.

The country is developing but the imagery can’t be applied to the rural areas. The urban-centric development is ill-suited for a country where 70 per cent of the population stays in rural India. The announcement of the 100 ‘Smart Cities’ might help share the burden but for that substantial policies need to be implemented towards revamping the towns by developing the infrastructure and transportation facilities. Intelligent distribution of population has to be followed to ensure the metropolitan city don’t crumble in order to sustain the livelihoods of all.

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