By 2030, Indian towns may turn dry, stinking hellholes

Yahoo 24/4/10

Dry taps, untreated sewage and piles of solid waste strewn all around. This can become a stark reality of our urban landscape by 2030, when India’s urban population will grow from 340 million in 2008 to 590 million – 40 per cent of the total population – and twice the present population of the United States, predicts a report by McKinsey & Company.

But this gloomy picture can be turned around if India invests $1.2 trillion (Rs 54 lakh crore) to keep pace with the growing urbanisation, says the report, India’s Urban Awakening: Building Cities, Sustaining Economic Growth, which was released on Thursday.

India’s current per capita spending of $17 (Rs 784) on urban infrastructure is just 14 per cent that of China’s $116 (Rs 6,030). The report states that if existing services are not improved drastically, the per capita water supply to a average citizen could drop from an average of 105 litres to only 65 litre a day in the next 20 years.

Also, 70-80 per cent of the sewage generated in the country would go untreated, while of the 377 million tonne per annum solid waste that would be generated by 2030, only about 295 million tonne will be collected because of inadequate facilities.

Thirteen cities will have a population of more than four million by 2030 with five states – Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab – likely to be more than 50% urbanised. Also, 70% of India’s GDP will come from cities – up from 58% – and drive a near fourfold increase in per capita incomes.

"India’s approach to urbanisation is likely to result in urban gridlock and chaos, jeopardising the 7.4% growth rate. India needs to act with urgency for the well being of its citizens and economy," says Ireena Vittal, partner, McKinsey & Company.

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