Urbanisation and Its Hazards

Urbanisation and Its Hazards


The last few decades have witnessed population explosion in cities across the world. While some cities have managed to put infrastructure in place to cope with the surge in city population, most have been unable to cope up.

Urbanisation is the phenomenon involving large scale migration of rural people to cities in search of better opportunities. The drawbacks associated with rural life including erratic monsoon and failure of crops which have led to many farmers committing suicide as they are unable to provide enough means for their family. Other reasons are the quality of life possible through education in good institutions available in the cities is not possible in rural areas.

Origin of Urbanisation

While the roots of urbanisation can be traced back to Renaissance times, it came to fore only during the Industrial revolution of 18th & 19th century. However, massive urbanisation has happened in the most populated continent of the world, Asia, only in 20th century. It is estimated that over 60% of the world’s population would be residing in cities of the world

Ill-effects of Urbanisation

So, what are the broad issues that arise as a result of urbanisation?

The increase in population leads to massive housing problems as most people who migrate to cities are unable to find an affordable place to stay. Ultimately, this results in creation of slums and occupying of streets. These slums are a breeding ground for various crimes. This is because people who have settled down are contractual labourers and hence do not have a permanent source of income. Hence, uneven income drives them to do illegal work through which they can earn a quick buck.

One of the biggest effects of urban agglomeration is that it increases the demand as well as consumption of water. The limited access to potable water has serious health hazards including water borne diseases which result in taking lives of millions of people including children. In addition to this, the migratory population also adds to the growth in urban traffic ultimately choking the transport system which was built taking into account a limited capacity.

Health Hazards caused as a result of Urbanisation

But, probably the biggest effects of urbanisation are the health hazards. The contamination of water, air and land spread disease. Large scale traffic is responsible for air pollution ultimately affecting the quality of air the people breathe. The amount of waste generated in the cities is also a matter of grave concern which governments across the world have been trying to address. However, the government’s efforts have not been able to match the steady migration and increasing filth added to the cities. The toxic wastes ultimately cause diseases such as malaria and dengue.

Sanitation is another grey area as hygiene related diseases due to inappropriate drainage system also results in death of millions of people as well as causing various diseases.
The rapid renouncing of agriculture by subsequent generations whose ancestors were engaged in farming also presents a challenge to food production. After all, food production is the most essential aspect of any economy and if every person starts migrating to urban area or towards industries, who would grow crops?

More the number of people, more the pressure on resources which ultimately drive up the prices of essential commodities causing trouble to the common man. If you thought that the impact of urbanisation was limited to environment, think again. The lifestyle that people lead in cities has also induced psychological stress including alienation and social issues such as marital instability.

Urbanisation has been one of the leading causes of displacement of habitats. Since large amounts of forests have been cleared for urban dwelling and where high rise buildings have come up, it has disturbed the natural habitat of various fauna. Besides this, the increasing number of buildings as well as greater population has resulted in increase in temperature.
Hence, growth in incomes and lifestyles has degraded the overall quality of human life as well as the emotional aspects connected with it.

Positive side of Urbanisation

On the flip side, Urbanisation does have a lot of pros to its credit which cannot be ignored. Excellent educational facilities offering variety of courses that provide students with myriad career options. All this ultimately leads to human resource contributing more to the economy, bringing in foreign exchange.

Urbanisation has also brought along people of different cultures closer. Hence, a city like Mumbai may have a huge population of Marathis but over time it has witnessed large number of people from North, South and even Eastern parts of the country settling down making social integration more acceptable.

Also, it cannot be denied that life style, health facilities and quality of infrastructure in urban areas are far better.


Hence, the need of the hour is to do massive urban planning for not only the upcoming cities but also existing cities which have already become victims of poor planning and sudden population explosion.

Urbanisation has changed the landscape of cities in the 20th century and it will continue to do so in the times to come as well. However, the need is to ensure that urbanisation can help in improving lives of millions and not lowering it.

A consolidated effort would have to be made by the governments of major cities to address the challenges that lie ahead of them and provide their citizens with a better quality of life.
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