New Delhi: India’s city population will nearly double to close to 600 million people by 2030, requiring huge investment to avoid urban “chaos”, a report by global consultancy McKinsey warned Thursday.
India must invest $1.2 trillion for core urban infrastructure in its cities over the next 20 years, equivalent to $134 per capita a year, the report said — almost eight times current spending in per capita terms.
“The need for change is urgent. India’s current approach to urbanization is likely to result in urban gridlock and chaos,” said Ireena Vittal, one of the report’s authors.
India’s urban population is projected to soar to 590 million from around 340 million now as a huge number of people migrate to cities from rural areas, said the report entitled “India’s Urban Awakening”.
By 2030, India will have 68 cities of more than one million people, 13 cities with more than four million people, and six megacities with populations of 10 million or more, the report forecast.
At least two of these cities — Mumbai and New Delhi — will be among the five largest cities in the world by 2030.
“India is urbanizing at a scale and pace it has never before experienced,” the report said.
In transportation, India needs to build 350 to 400 kilometers (220 to 250 miles) of metros and subways every year, more than 20 times it has achieved in the past decade.
In addition, between 19,000 and 25,000 kilometers of road lanes need to be built every year — including lanes for bus-based rapid transit systems — nearly equal to the road lanes constructed over the past decade.
Without action, peak traffic density could hit 610 vehicles per lane kilometer, the report said.
At such densities, an average journey may take up to five hours in peak morning traffic so India “needs to act with urgency for the wellbeing of its citizens and economy”, said Vittal.
India’s current urban spending is very low by international comparison.
In per capita terms, India’s annual capital spending of $17 is only 14% of China’s $116 and less than 5% of Britain’s 391.