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At 300 million, the urban population of India is still less than one third of its total population. It is projected that by 2045 nearly 800 million Indians will be living in its cities – more than the total population of the whole of present-day Europe. Already, the infrastructures of all the six mega- and 40 million-plus cities of India are under very severe stress. The ground water is depleting rapidly, pollution is reaching crisis levels, the transportation system is in disarray, and sewerage and sanitation are in a shambles, all of which is affecting public health and hygiene. This explosive state of affairs has not been adequately appreciated at the national and international level. This paper analyses the programmes and policies adopted so far to correct the situation, identifies their shortcomings, and looks into the new initiatives that have been undertaken to make the cities self-sustainable units of governance and reliable service providers.

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