Mumbai to be the 2nd largest city in the world by 2025

In less than two decades, Mumbai will be the second most densely populated city in the world behind Tokyo and just ahead of Delhi and Dhaka. Thus, by 2025, the four biggest cities in the world will all be in Asia. Today, only one Asian city, Tokyo, is in the top four. That is the estimate made by UN Habitat in its latest report, ‘State of the World’s Cities 2008/09’. The three South Asian cities leapfrogging into the top four league will replace Mexico City, New York and Sao Paulo in Brazil. Kolkata, currently the 8th biggest city, will retain the same rank though its population will have risen by 40%. Chennai will also join the ranks of mega cities—those with a population of over ten million. By 2025, that list will have 26 cities, up from 19 now. Five of the new entrants are from Asia and two from Africa.The rapid growth of Indian metros, forecast by the UN report ‘State of the World’s Cities 2008/09’, is happening despite the fact that Asian cities also account for the bulk of what it describes as shrinking cities—those whose populations are in decline. Globally, 143 cities experienced a loss of 13 million people from 1990 to 2000. More than half of this loss (6.8 million people) occurred in Chinese cities, while roughly 16% (2.1 million people) was in other Asian countries. Asia, the report noted, accounts for 60% of all shrinking cities in the developing world. While the world’s two most populous countries, India and China, are both witnessing this phenomenon of shrinking cities, the patterns are not the same. In China, most of the cities projected to shrink are intermediate and big cities. In India, which accounts for 20% of the shrinking cities, it’s the smaller urban centres that are shrinking as people migrate to bigger cities or to other newer cities. For instance, local authorities in India, along with the political and economic elites, are transforming their cities into dynamic economic areas as in the case of Salem, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune, which are all growing at an annual rate of 3% or more by adopting pro-growth strategies through marketing, promotion and focusing on high-potential economic sectors, the report says.Despite shrinking cities, the urban population keeps growing as a proportion of the total in the developing world, as rural towns and centres grow to become new cities and further migration happens between these cities. Migration has been the primary reason for growth of cities in countries with low levels of urbanisation, as is the case in Asia and Africa. However, in many countries, the largest movements of population are taking place between cities and not from rural to urban areas. This city-to-city movement has been one of the strongest reasons for some cities expanding at the cost of others. Dhaka is the fastest growing meta city—those with populations above 20 million—in the world with a population growth rate of 4.4% per year. But some of the fastest growing cities are in China, with Chongqing, Xiamen and Shenzhen all growing at over 10% per year. It’s no surprise that China is expected to be 70% urban by 2050. In India, on the other hand, urbanisation is likely to be at a slower pace. The report estimates that about 55% of the population or 900 million people would be living in urban areas by 2050.In the case of the developed world, legal and illegal migration account for approximately one-third of the urban growth, the report points out and concludes that without migration, the urban population in the developed world would probably decline or remain the same in the coming decades. In the last 30 years, more cities in the developed world shrank than grew, mostly cities in North America and Europe. This again could be due to people from one city moving to another city and due to migrants choosing to move into certain cities and not others. Many cities in countries of the former Soviet bloc too are losing their populations. Nearly 100 Russian cities experienced negative growth in the 1990s, while in the Ukraine, 40 cities contracted.

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