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Indian cities face daunting but surmountable challenges: President

Posted on Jan 21 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Jan 21 : Terming slums and homelessness visible signs of systemic inadequacies in urban areas, President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday said challenges confronting Indian cities were daunting but surmountable.

Speaking at a function to present national awards to states under the flagship schemes of the housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry, the president said India was projected to witness the highest rise in urban population in the world in the next 40 years.

"Are our cities and towns equipped to face this spurt in population? Are our governance structures and service delivery mechanisms robust enough to meet the expansion envisaged?

"It is worrisome that our city structures struggle to keep pace. As visible signs of systemic inadequacies, slums and homelessness pose considerable challenges for policymakers," he said.

Mukherjee noted that there were an estimated 93 million slum dwellers in ther country, with an urban housing shortage of nearly 18 million units.

"Slum dwellers live in abysmal conditions and are deprived of essential civic amenities. The challenges confronting our cities are daunting, yet surmountable," he said.

The president said urbanisation was a phenomenon that had touched every part of the globe.

"Nearly half of the world lives in cities today. Two years ago, for the first time in history, the urban population outnumbered rural population, marking the advent of a new 'urban millennium'," he said.

The president said cities have become engines of growth and centres of innovation but have also been subjected to tremendous pressure due to "migration, social inequality, civic infrastructure inequity and environmental pollution".

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