Vol. 3, Issue 2 (2018)
Environmental perspectives of urbanisation: A brief review
Author(s): Asmat Rashid, Mohammad Aneesul Mehmood, Rouf Ahmad Bhat
Abstract: The precise demographic definition of urbanization is the increasing share of a nation's population living in urban areas and thus a declining share living in rural areas. A nation's urban population can grow from natural increase, net rural to urban migration and reclassification. Over the past 60 years, there is a strong association between economic growth and urbanization and most of the world's poorest nations remain among the least urbanized nations. Kashmir valley is the most urbanized region of Indian Himalayan region. Urban areas provide many potential advantages for improving living conditions through the economies of scale and proximity they provide for most forms of infrastructure and services. Urbanization over the past two centuries has also been associated with pro-poor social reforms in which collective organization by the urban poor had important roles. Srinagar is a primate city while almost all the urban centres fall in its zone of influence. The urban development in the valley is very lopsided and imbalanced with Srinagar witnessing tremendous growth and small urban centres have either recorded sluggish growth or have shown signs of stagnation. This twin process has made urban growth very complex phenomenon and a challenging task for city planners to ensure a reasonable quality of life and environment to the inhabitants. The unplanned and unregulated urbanization is leading to several kinds of environmental change which are more intensive and hazardous in the ecologically fragile Kashmir Himalayas. The heavy concentration of urban centers is found in the Jhelum valley floor and all the large and medium towns are located there along with Srinagar city. The two important problems of urbanization identified in Kashmir valley are; The first one is related to the disproportionate growth and concentration of people in Srinagar city which has given birth to many urban ecological and socio-demographic problems. This has happened largely because of the absence of any planning strategy at the regional level and could be rectified by providing civic amenities, infrastructural facilities and employment opportunities in small and medium towns. This will reduce immigration to Srinagar city as people would be attracted to other towns of the valley. This will also help in maintaining balanced urban development of the region. The second problem relates to the increasing concentration of people in the mountain towns of the valley which have developed mainly on account of tourism. The geographical information system has proved as a very helpful tool for analysing the urban dynamics in the valley and it is recommended that modern techniques of remote sensing and GIS are employed to formulate policies of urban development by analysing their spatio-temporal dynamics of population growth and land use change. To attain the ideal of inclusive growth, it is important that urbanization be socially equitable, economically viable and environmentally sustainable. In this paper, we have discussed the relationship between urbanisation, economic growth and social development in Kashmir valley.