Urban Challenges in India and the Mission for a Sustainable Habitat

Ruchira Ghosh, Arun Kansal

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This paper presents urbanization challenges in India and initiatives
taken to address them. Urbanization in India is characterized by skewed urban
growth between cities by large population influx creating distinct variation in
core and periphery of cities in terms of urban form and services. Key challenges
include growth of slums, inadequate management of solid waste, decrease in
per capita water availability and unreliable water quality, inadequate sewage
coverage and deteriorating ambient air. Although, these issues are not new or
specific for India, what is new are the drivers and pressures behind these problems. The paper illustrates the challenges of Indian urbanization in the light of
resource inefficiency, resistance to adopt upcoming technologies that do not
have direct financial benefits, weak enforcement of laws, and inadequacy in regulatory framework. It also presents instances of active participation of non–formal and formal sectors in addressing sustainability challenges. There is also a
recognition of the fact that city governments are faced with multiple sustainability agendas of climate adaptation. This presents a decisional challenge for
planners and city administrations. Benefits incidental to a particular policy goal
can help drive the implementation of the policy and sustain it in the long term,
but only when the inherent risk trade–offs, if present, can be managed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281
Number of pages304
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2014


  • Urban growth
  • India
  • Climate Change
  • Migrations
  • Pollution
  • Mitigation of climate change
  • sustainable development


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