Each city in our country has expanded over the years but expanded haphazardly. The outer limits have seen numerous extensions by the authorities. Still that has not been able to prove adequate for the migrant’s settlers who make their makeshift huts and tenements outside the periphery. Those who enter the central or deeper parts of the city are able to build their clusters of slums at convenient places. Added to those are squatters or illegal occupants of public places some of which include influential people and local politicians.
The major class of migrants in the cities particularly in metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore is of workers and middle class employees who have shifted to these places either in search of work or after getting a job. When one person gets a job or regular work he calls his entire family to the city, thus leading to further exodus from the rural areas.
The metropolitan cities are major centres of manufacturing, trade, office work. Besides, thousands of shops, business centres, restaurants and small enterprises offer various types of jobs or work opportunities. Labour jobs are available in every part of the city. Those who migrate from villages get some work as per their skill, education and physical capacity. Besides the metropolitan cities mentioned above there are many other big and fast growing cities like Amritsar, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Pune, all the state capitals and district centres, which offer vast opportunities for regular work for the migrants. Some cities like Noida and Gurgaon have expanded so fast in industry and services that the people find it very easy to go there and get some job.
By comparison, our villages have not developed fast. Agriculture is still by and large primitive and offers only seasonal employment. With the number of persons in the family increasing generation after generation, the average size of land holdings has decreased. The farmers no longer find them adequate to generate enough income to sustain their families. They prefer to go to nearby cities to find odd jobs during off season. With the spread of education, there has been increase in the awareness level of people.
They are no longer afraid of venturing far into the country in search of jobs. Despite a great industrial development in the country, the rural and semi-urban belts have still remained devoid of job and trade opportunities where people can find some additional work.
Mass media like newspapers, radio and TV have played a great role in increasing the awareness level of people about the higher standard of living and the facilities one can enjoy in cities. Those who are educated have naturally been lured to migrate to cities. Apart from finding regular work or job, they have better prospects for education for their children. Transportation, health care and other facilities are much better in cities than in rural areas. There are several entertainment centres and other places of recreation besides sports facilities.
Higher education centres are mostly located in cities. The preparations for various competitive examinations can be better made through institutes in the cities. The administration and other arrangements of law and order, and security are considered better in cities. With newer technologies and improved facilities like metro rail, shopping malls, multiplexes, call centres and other infrastructure, the cities have become more attractive for people.
Regular and heavy migration of people has adversely impacted the cities. The pollution level has already reached alarming levels as more and more industries are being set up and the number of vehicles on the roads is increasing every year. The smoke has become a permanent ingredient of air that people breathe. Diseases like asthma, lung cancer, columnary obstructive pelvic disease (COPD), cancer, eye burning, skin rashes are common in cities. In big cities, there are traffic jams, overcrowded buses and frequent accidents.
Civic facilities like water supply, electricity, disposal of refuse, sewerage, etc. are fully stretched in all major cities. There is acute shortage of water. The supply from corporation comes only for about an hour each in the morning and evening during which people have to store water for their use. In some areas the supply is irregular, putting people in great difficulty. There are frequent power cuts in each colony. During peak demand season, i.e. summer, the power cuts are extended up to several hours everyday. People perspire during noons and have candle light dinners when there is no light. Although there are inverters in all offices, workplaces and most of the houses, their batteries often remain uncharged because of frequent power cuts for long durations.
With demand for water and electricity increasing more and more due to increase in population and the number of households, the authorities feel helpless to cope with huge demand pressures. Most of cities have poor drainage and disposal system. The amount of garbage created by ever-increasing households is so large that its disposal cannot be made quickly. Heaps of rotting garbage, overflowing sewerage and drains are a common sight in every city. When this large amount of garbage is dumped on the outskirts of the city, the nearby area becomes worst example of insanitation. The slum dewellers and other temporary illegal colonies only make matters worse. The civic authorities do not have adequate means-staff, funds and equipment, etc. to control the situation.
The problem of constructing dwelling units to accommodate large population has assumed gigantic proportions. The authorities have no means to meet the demand. The prices have soared so high that even Low Income Group (LIG) flats have gone out of reach of common man.
There are educational centres like schools and colleges but the numbers of students seeking admission in them far exceed the number of seats available. Hospitals and health care centres are always full of patients. The number of doctors and beds fall short of patients. The markets are crowded; the roads are full and parking facilities inadequate. Increasing population and regular migration of people to the cities are the two major factors responsible for inadequate arrangements. The number of workers and job seekers is much more than the work available.
There is large unemployment in every city. Poverty exists amidst plenty. Poor economic conditions often lead to increasing rates of crime. Civil administration and police responsible for maintaining law and order have difficult task of checking crimes.
The villages are becoming woefully short of farmers and workers because of migration of people to the cities. Agriculture dominated states of Punjab and Haryana have to depend on farm workers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh during sowing as well as harvest season. As more and more educated people are shifting to urban areas, the villages are suffering from a shortage of literate and advanced farmers. This is perhaps one of the reasons why our agriculture grow has been below the set targets even during the Eleventh Five Year Plan.
Migration to certain extent is understandable due to spread of education and concentration of business and employment opportunities in the cities. It is even beneficial if limited and controlled as it provides human capital to many establishments. But the government should make some legislation to check it beyond tolerable level otherwise the life in big cities shall turn into a nightmare in the near future.
The most effective way to check migration to cities would be to develop our villages. If the necessary amenities like transportation, marketing, health care, education, finance and business/employment are made available in villages; few people would like to leave their villages. We should develop our rural areas in all these fields. Setting up new industries in villages would generate employment in nearby areas. Creating other infrastructure facilities would also be a step in the right direction to reduce the burden of cities.