The Effects of Urbanisation

Topics: Village, Air pollution, Pollution Pages: 25 (8937 words) Published: April 3, 2012


Urbanisation causes changes in the living conditions under which people live and work. Especially in developing countries, this often leads to adverse living conditions (see introductory remarks in Section 1.2.5). In the particular setting of urbanising villages, there are places where chaotic urbanisation and industrialisation causes hardship, particularly for local residents. This is not the whole story, however. There are also many positive effects of urbanisation: improving housing conditions, better amenities and services, and higher living standards. Yet these benefits are often ignored in the literature on urban environmental issues in developing countries. As argued in this chapter, the selective impact that one can observe there depends to a large degree on the type of settlement, the socio-economic position of the population, and people’s occupations. This is illustrated by presenting the case of the fully urbanised and industrialised village of Samaipur. It was chosen for a case study because of its radical and rapid transformation; Samaipur was a rural village until 15 years ago. Presently, this ‘village’ is the scene of many of the environmental problems generally ascribed to urbanisation mentioned in the literature (Section 1.2.5). Before turning to the case study, it is instructive to describe the prevailing situation regarding urban amenities and services in the region. In this respect, the situation of the urbanising area of Delhi stands out favourably. Subsequently, the description narrows in on environmental problems, treating pollution, congestion and pressure on amenities. These adverse effects, which economists call negative externalities, usually go uncompensated; e.g. a factory is not held directly responsible to pay compensation to nearby residents who suffer from its pollution (Pearce 1981). A discussion of externalities belongs to a more economic approach. In contrast, this study attempts to measure both the positive and the adverse effects in terms of residential quality, availability of services and amenities, and health indicators. The treatment of these issues remains on a descriptive level. Sometimes, the only aim is to formulate hypotheses, since tracing the causality between environmental factors and health is an extremely complicated and tricky issue (Geddes 1997, Wildavski 1995, de Lepper et al. 1995). 6.1 Positive effects: better amenities, housing and health awareness

Over the past few decades, the urban amenities and infrastructure in the villages in Delhi’s rural-urban fringe have been expanded and improved. As a consequence, the villagers generally refer to their settlements as being ‘more developed’ in comparison with villages beyond the boundaries of the NCT. At the same time, they complain about the remaining gap in the level of amenities and the quality of infrastructure compared to middle-class urban neighbourhoods. The difference is increasingly relevant to their selfperception and their degree of satisfaction.


Figure 6.1

Level of amenity in rural Delhi compared, 1981-91

% of total households

100 80 60 40 20 0 toilet facility electricity ‘pucca’ house safe drinking water Urban Delhi 1981 Rural Delhi 1981 Rural Haryana 1981 Rural India 1981

% of total households

100 80 60 40 20 0 toilet facility electricity ‘pucca’ house safe drinking water Urban Delhi 1991 Rural Delhi 1991 Rural Haryana 1991 Rural India 1991

Source: Bose 1996, pp. 184-196, according to data from the census of 1981 and 1991

Figure 6.1 shows the difference in housing conditions. Pucca is a local term for permanent material such as bricks and concrete; katcha refers to mud, straw, cardboard, plastic and other traditional and provisional construction material. In rural Delhi, the housing conditions and amenities are significantly better than in rural Haryana and the rest of rural India. Rural Delhi was even catching up with...
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