Can Delhi serve 40m people?

The population of a city plays an important role in driving its economy. A city like Delhi, the second-most populous city in the world after Tokyo, needs more efficient policies to balance its outgrowing population. As per a report published by the United Nations in mid-2018, the population in the city is expected to surpass Tokyo in 2028 that is in a decade’s time. This raises concern whether Delhi is well-prepared to sustain such growth. Is the city capable enough to fulfill the growing demands?

The population of Delhi and its immediate neighbourhood is presently estimated to be 29 million. Delhi could be the world’s most populous city by 2028 with 37.2 million people residing in the city. That is eight million more in just a period of 10 years, stated ‘World Urbanisation Prospects 2018’ report released by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).
The geographical area of Delhi is 1483 sqkm and according to the Census of 2011, it had a population of 16.8 million, only a decade ago the Census 2001 had reported 13.8 million population. And, as per the estimates of the Master Plan of Delhi 2021, the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi will have 21 million people by 2021. But, racing ahead of the estimated figure, the population of the capital city has already touched 29 million mark in 2019. John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division, said in a news conference, “When urban growth is rapid, insuring access to housing, water, sanitation, electricity, public transport, education and healthcare for all is especially challenging”.
The report data and the population prospects of the city put the preparedness of the civic authorities in question and raise concerns about the ability of the capital to handle the growing numbers. The population trends show an alarming rate of growth in the city which could possibly impact the resources, infrastructure, basic facilities and more, making it hard for the city authorities to cater to the growing demands.

Preparatory measures Delhi needs
It can be inferred easily that the approach towards addressing the population issue should be multi-pronged as the problems in themselves are multifold.
The Government of India came up with a few probable solutions, focused on bringing down the fertility rate to 2.1, like spreading awareness on policies like ‘hum do humare do’, a nation-wide scheme promoting ‘two-child family’, actually helped to control the population to an extent. Also, promotion of contraceptive methods through various social media platforms, radio, television, pamphlets, hoardings and advertisements played an important role in making people aware about the overpopulation issue.
Various academicians and experts with their different perspectives come up with solutions accordingly. A major chunk of them are of the opinion that migration plays a very crucial role when population of a metropolitan like Delhi is discussed. And therefore, a possible solution, though a long-term one, is to develop country side areas. Developing the villages, especially in neighbouring states, and making the life nearly as easy as in Delhi can reduce the flow of people significantly. Also, developing the outskirts of the city and making the essential facilities like water supply, electricity, and sewage network more available for the residents can be helpful in distributing the population. With all these, there is also a need to create scattered employment centres to distribute the population and address housing and mobility issues.
Another perspective talks about the management of the informal settlements in the city. The government needs to stop further setting up of slums and unauthorised colonies as these provide an easier way for migrants to move and settle in the city. Therefore, prohibiting further setting up of illegal colonies can benefit the city to prevent a scenario where it struggles to facilitate its people.

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