Urban migration

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Urban migration is a global phenomenon altering the demographic map of many countries. Urbanization is taking place at a rapid rate in India, the Northeast and Arunachal also. The urban population has increased from 11 percent in 1901 to 32 percent in the 2011 census. Every minute, 25-30 people are migrating to Indian cities from rural areas.

The NE and Arunachal are witnessing similar increased migration by young villagers to the capital region, district headquarters, and major towns. In fact, many villages near major towns are left with mostly elderly population who are sticking to the villages due legacy and tradition while most young persons have already migrated to towns. Many villages are not finding sufficient students for schools in the villages. Very few youths are taking up the traditional profession of their forefathers like farming or agri-horticulture. In fact, most villagers are today dependent on migrant labourers.

People are migrating to cities in search of better economic benefits, better education, better medical facilities and more jobs. This urban migration is overwhelming the few towns and cities. Many towns are witnessing unplanned growth with lack of water supply, electricity, drainage, parking space, children parks, playgrounds, etc. This is further leading to increase in pollution, traffic jams, crimes, drug addiction, alcoholism, etc. Unless this fast-paced urban migration is stemmed, our towns and cities are headed for chaos and collapse.

There are no easy solutions to this complex problem of urban migration. Every person wants to taste the town life, better education, healthcare, shopping malls, multiplexes, etc. The government, intellectuals, elders and society must step in with some innovative methods to slow this urban migration.

One way to stem urban migration is by improving rural infrastructure like stable electricity, water supply, mobile/internet connectivity and good roads between towns and villages. If there are good roads, stable electricity, mobile/internet connectivity and good schools in rural areas, lesser people are likely to migrate from the villages. Another way could be to strengthen the panchayati raj system, wherein financial and executive power is vested with the panchayati raj institutions of rural areas. Another option could be to shift the main offices of the state government and the district headquarters to nearby rural areas, away from cities. For example, the capital of Gujarat is Gandhinagar, which is in a rural area 30-35 kms away from the city of Ahmedabad. Another example is Yupia, the district HQ of Papum Pare. One option could be to shift major industries, educational institutes/universities and central institutes to rural areas.

This would create more job opportunities in the rural areas and uplift the rural economy. Another way maybe is by making rural livelihood options like agri-horticulture, livestock rearing, fisheries, etc, more attractive with incentives, grants, assured markets, subsidies, etc.

Urban migration is killing our towns and cities which are overpopulated, polluted, dirty and chaotic. As responsible citizens, we must all contribute to stem this menace of urban migration. Do you still want to live in cities and towns? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)