Rural settlements in Maharashtra.Problems of Urban and Rural Settlements – Environmental, Housing, Slum, Water Supply and Sanitation,Urban Traffic and Pollution.

Urban-Rural settlements in Maharashtra

The districts of Jalna, Osmanabad, Hingoli, Satara, Ratnagiri, Washim, Nandurbar, Gondiya, Gadchiroli and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra all enjoy a rural built-up to urban built-up ratio of more than 2 (where the built-up area of the district’s rural settlements are at least twice the area of its urban settlements).

Districts may have similar ratios between rural and urban built-up areas – see Ahmednagar, Akola and Dhule – but whereas the built-up areas of both types are more than 100 sq km in Ahmednagar they are smaller in the other two districts. There are only three districts for which the total rural built-up area is less than 50 sq km: Parbhani, Hingoli ad Washim.

There are 15 districts in which there is at least 1.5 sq km of rural built-up area for 1 sq km of urban built-up and this indicates that in these districts the base of agricultural and allied activities is still strong and therefore needs continuous encouragement. There are 7 districts for which this ratio is between 1.5 and 1 and these therefore must be watched for signs of quickening urbanisation which will need to be curbed in the interests of sustainability and indeed of the provision of food.

Urban areas are non-linear built-up areas covered by impervious structures adjacent to or connected by streets. This class includes residential areas, mixed built-up, recreational places, public and private utilities, communications, commercial areas, reclaimed areas, vegetated areas within urban zones, transportation infrastructure, industrial areas and their dumps, and ash/cooling ponds. Rural built-up areas are the lands used for human settlement in which the majority of the population is involved in agriculture. These are built-up areas, small in size, mainly associated with agriculture and allied sectors and non-commercial activities. They can be seen in clusters both non-contiguous and scattered.

The last 4 districts – Nagpur, Nashik, Thane and Pune – have their urban built-up bars coloured differently to indicate that their scales are beyond, and very much above, the 150 sq km of the chart. Mumbai city and suburban is omitted entirely.

Problems of Urban and Rural Settlements in Maharashtra

Water Resources and Sanitation

Per capita water availability in the state is lower than the national average. Water demand for various consumptive uses, such as drinking, agriculture, industrial etc., both from ground and surface water resources, is higher than the availability. Distribution of rainfall is highly uneven in the State and in many areas the soil conditions and topography are unfavourable to ground water recharge through percolation. Further, over-use and misuse of resources is responsible for the water scarcity. Wide disparities exist in the sanitation facilities in the urban and rural areas. Thus, meeting the increased needs for the water supply and sanitation facilities are a challenge for the authorities.

Solid waste problems are more obvious in the urban rather than in rural areas. They cover many issues such as collection of mixed waste, lack of use of sanitary landfills, dumping of waste in open grounds, technical and socio-economic problems etc. The daily per capita solid waste generated in small, medium and large towns in India is around 0.1 kg, 0.3-0.4 kg and 0.6 kg, respectively, with the recyclable content varying from 13 percent to 20 percent. Improper disposal of such large quantities of SW has caused significant land degradation. The drive for increased agricultural production has resulted in the loss of genetic diversity in the country. For instance, by the end of the year 2005, India is expected to produce 75 percent of its rice from just 10 varieties compared to the 30,000 varieties traditionally cultivated. Terrestrial biodiversity losses in various ecosystems have been identified as a major concern but these have still to be quantified.

Maharashtra is one of the most industrialised states, and its capital, Mumbai, is termed as the financial capital of India. The State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was about 13 percent of India’s GDP for 2003-04 at 1993-94 constant prices (GoM, 2005). According to the 2001 census, Maharashtra accounts for 9.42 percent of the total population and is the second most populated state in the country. Given the fact that Maharashtra accounts for a large share of both India’s GDP and population, concerns for environmental degradation in the state are far more serious than in the rest of the country. In fact, Maharashtra is one of the foremost states, which encountered various environmental problems and undertook appropriate remedial measures. Preparation of SoERMaharashtra, thus, is a very relevant exercise for the State. Its objective is to assess the status of various natural resources and environmental sectors in the State so that future strategies could be planned which ensure sustainable growth with minimal damage to ecology and environment.

Solid Waste Management

The State generates a large amount of municipal solid waste and other types of wastes and the quantity generated in major cities and class I towns, due to consumption patterns and higher standard of living, is more than the class II towns. It is found that Mumbai generates the highest proportion of MSW followed by Pune and Thane.

The existing SWM system in urban areas has several shortcomings such as low removal frequency, uncontrolled dumping and obsolete methods. Management of MSW needs improvement at all stages i.e. collection, transportation, treatment and disposal. Source separation of waste is of utmost importance for using the waste as secondary resource for recycling process, composting, waste-to-energy generation etc. Models of SWM used in some developed countries may be replicated in the state. Socio-economic issues attached to the informal sector’s participation in SWM need an increased attention. Policies for SWM should be framed using the principle of the “4 R’s” i.e. Reduce, Recover, Reuse and Recycle.

Urban Traffic and Pollution

Monitoring results show that the air pollution in residential areas is mostly moderate though the SPM levels are a cause for concern in most cities in the state. In terms of RPM levels, which are also responsible for health damages, Maharashtra’s towns are better than northern cities like Delhi, Calcutta and Ahmedabad, but worse than southern cities like Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The noise levels in some cities exceed the prescribed standards in all categories, for both day and night and the situation worsens during festivals and functions.

To reduce ambient air pollution, particularly in urban areas, improvement in transport infrastructure, specially roads, improved vehicle design, alternate clean fuels and better traffic management, is required. Source identification and source apportionment exercises to find out the qualitative and quantitative contribution of various sources are needed. Indoor air pollution could be reduced by facilitating access to clean fuels and electricity in rural areas, reducing the cost of energy supplied to low-income households, promotion of renewable energy systems such as biogas, solar water heaters and other systems.

Slum problem of Mumbai

Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, lies on prime property right in the middle of India’s financial capital, Mumbai (Bombay).  It is home to more than a million people. Many are second-generation residents, whose parents moved in years ago.  Today’s Dharavi bears no resemblance to the fishing village it once was. A city within a city, it is one unending stretch of narrow dirty lanes, open sewers and cramped huts.  In a city where house rents are among the highest in the world, Dharavi provides a cheap and affordable option to those who move to Mumbai to earn their living.  Rents here can be as low as 185 rupees ($4/£2.20) per month. As Dharavi is located between Mumbai’s two main suburban rail lines, most people find it convenient for work.

The state government has plans to redevelop Dharavi and transform it into a modern township, complete with proper housing and shopping complexes, hospitals and schools.


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