Ecosystem Based Approaches: Disaster Proofing India’s Urban Sprawls

By: Shalini Dhyani
India is undergoing rapid urban expansion. With increasing population, rapid development and infrastructure growth, urban sprawls are the new hotspots of disaster. The article focuses on the Tier II city of Nagpur, which is being developed as a Smart City. The urban areas of the city have been facing recent water/climate challenges and it is pertinent to explore the future of this city in the backdrop of increasing urban disasters.
Disaster Education

Asia is undergoing rapid urbanisation with 42 per cent of its total population living in urban areas by 2010, contributing to 80 per cent of the GDP (Dhyani et al. 2018; UN Habitat 2010/2011). Urban centres are also considered to be one of the mega drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem services loss as pointed out in The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report on global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services released in 2019 in Paris. Globally, India constitutes 14 per cent of the total urban population dwelling in five megacities of the world with a population more than 10 million. By 2030 this is expected to rise to seven megacities (Kundu 2011). In addition to the fast growing megacities 53 urban sprawls are reported from India with more than 1 million population in 2011 against 35 in 2001. This shows the rapid urban expansion that has happened in just one decade (World Cities Report 2018). The spatial expansion of the top 100 cities of the country by almost 2.5 times—to more than 5000 sq km on ground, is astounding. Population of the country has grown at a rate of 17.6 per cent from 2001 to 2011 with urban population growing by 32.8 per cent in 2017—projected to be 33.9 and 47.8 per cent by 2020 and 2050, respectively (Bhagat 2011). These urban centres are known to have profound and extraordinarily large ecological, carbon and water ‘footprint’ with multifaceted, and often unanticipated impacts on natural ecosystems.

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