“After more than 56 years of independence, with launching and implementing many five years plans, the cities of modern India, are on the verge of collapse. The cities epitomes an area wherein the habitants, whether rich or poor, are bound to face the scourges of exploding population, air pollution contaminated water sources, bumps solid wastes, ill tolerable noise pollution, inadequate transport system, creaked road unable to cope with the proliferation of private and public vehicles, shortage of water, breakdown of electricity, choked sanitary, drainage and sewage system, increasing crime against fair sex and unsafe senior citizens, with criminally indifferent attitude of government officials to every kind of problems.” One more peculiar thing about cities, is the scant regard for keeping the cities clean and tidy. The indifferent attitude and deliberate neglect by the civic authorities have caused the cities a bump of solid and other wastes choking and overflowing sewage and drains, resulted into mud, water storage and dirt everywhere, giving rise to epidemics like malaria, typhoid, dengue every alternate year.
Various reasons and factors are responsible for the sordid state of cities. Unplanned growth of colonies, ill management of resources, lack of prudency in planning, sidelining the issues like pollution, education, slums, cleanliness, are to a great extent responsible to make the cities a nightmare.
We can find temple, mosque or shrine at every nook and corner, even in the middle of a road while the basic amenities like water tab or electric pillar are not made available. Resources are not properly managed, corruption in institutions responsible for providing basic amenities are of the highest order. Public funds are being missutilised for the aggrandizement of personal or political benefits. Any positive developmental action for replacing or removing the slum or removing the illegal encroachments has immediately become a political issue and vehemently opposed and sabotaged by the politicians.
There are approximately 350 cities, having population more than one lack, proper sanitary, drainage health care seems to be the privileges of a handful of people. Living in the posh colonies.
New Delhi, the Capital of India, a metropolitan is passing through the worst crisis of inadequate mass transportation and pollution caused by the vehicular traffic. It is noteworthy that the Supreme Court has to issue very strict directives to keep the city free from vehicular pollution as the earlier advice of the apex court, were not acted upon by the Delhi Govt. More than forty lacks vehicles run daily on the road of Delhi, more than the total number of vehicles in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, all together. Delhi is growing day by day with more people streaming in search of their livelihood. The city is on the verge of bursting with population explosion and authorities are least concern to make provisions for the eventuality. The plight of Mumbai is no better than other metropolitan cities.
The Suburban rail network of Mumbai, which carries over six million commuters daily, is not perfect and whenever it failed a violent reaction as taken place in 1994, is always feared. The unplanned and unchecked growth of distant suburbs, depends mainly on the suburban railway networked for their daily travelling, has caused an intolerable pressure on the railways. The existing Railways machinery is unable to maintain the system properly and efficiently. The haphazard growth of suburbs with or without the basic amenities provided by the builders, has rendered the peace and tranquility of the city to ransom. A daily commuter comments, “The policy makers should take a ride during the morning or evening hours to find the problems and hardships faced by us everyday”.
India’s commercialized Mumbai, is an open Mafia territory with more than two murders on an average daily. Open gang wars, extortion, kidnapping, sexual blackmail are the daily locals news, that are becoming too common to raise any protest. Mumbai police had a name of repute in yester years, but now many philanthropists, planners, bureaucrats demanded a need of total revamp of the police administration to make it free from Mafia links.
Frequent power breakdown, shortage of drinking water, overcrowded transportation are some of the problems faced by most of the cities now-a-days. The in habitants of metro Chennai has accepted their fate accompli, to live with chronic water shortage, spending not less than Rs. 500/- per month for water requirement. Over in Kerala, having 42 small rivers and lakes even most of the cities are facing irregular water supply. Same is the problem in many newly built colonies of Mumbai.
Yet another problem in most of the cities, particularly the metros is the proliferation of slum localities. Recently, the DDA authorities refused to take any action on the complaints of residents of West Delhi posh colony against the slum dwellers using a pavement for defecation. In his report the Comptroller and Auditor General of India disclosed in 1994-95, that over 40000 new jhuggies proliferate in the capital every year. The court in Nov. 1994 had advised the Delhi Government to check slum growth and to take immediate step to improve the conditions of the urban poor. It is a fact that millions people from countryside rural areas migrate to Metros and other nearby cities in order to earn their livelihood. There is no employment opportunities available in rural areas.
Cities provide job opportunities for all, the professionals, the traders, the skilled or unskilled labors and anyone who is ready to work into his body and soul. Slums are the result of migration at no cost. In spite of all the suffering and hardships, these poor jobless people would prefer to slog in the city fringes, sleep under flyovers, or on pavements, for want of bread to starving stomach their family. The slum dwellers is a harsh reality, no government has taken any resultant step to solve the problem in a planned and positive manner. The government is duty bound to provide basic amenities to these poor? Are these people not contributing or serving the needs of rich or economically affluent society of the cities in the form of Press-wala, rickshaw puller, daily wage labor, or the others?
The complex socio-economic growth of cities, has given rise to small or big crimes like rape, dacoit, theft, kidnapping even the murder. The lack of impersonal relations, indifferent attitude of the co-passengers, neglect and corrupt police officials, had made cities the dens of crime. A lone youth with open knife in a crowded bus may after pick pocketing an innocent passenger, could alight from a bus nonchalantly and none dare to stop him. Crime thrives because of the apathy of the citizens and the collusion and irresponsibility on the part of law enforcing machinery.
Are the cities on the verge of collapse? Are we heading towards a dooms day? Can the peculiar problems of cities be tackled? Can the cities be places for peaceful and pollution free living? Though lot of clamoring have been there to improve the lives in the Metros and cities, yet a little can be done in the immediate future to halt the process of urbane sat ion. A national urban policy needs to be refined keeping in view the entire spectrum of urban problems and peculiarities to tackle the problems. To check the exodus from rural areas to urban areas, a lot is required to be done to make available the job opportunities in rural area itself. Developing satellite towns, with all necessary infrastructure and proper transportation may prove to be a good measure to check the over crowdedness in the cities. Nothing can be done without the cooperation of the general mass to ameliorate the conditions of the cities. Proper prudent planning, sincere strategies, with involvement of society, check on corruption can make our cities worth living. If all concerned join hand sincerely with determination our cities \nay be turned from the present day’ Hell’ to the’ Heaven’ of future.