Urban population will double in 25 yrs: Pranab

: India`s urban population will more than double to over 600 million by 2035 as increasing number of people migrate to cities because of better infrastructure and employment opportunities, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

Updated: Dec 18, 2010, 00:20 AM IST

New Delhi: India`s urban population will more than double to over 600 million by 2035 as increasing number of people migrate to cities because of better infrastructure and employment opportunities, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said Friday.

"With sustained high economic growth, the pace of urbanisation is set to accelerate. The next 25 years should see the urban population living in Indian towns and cities doubling," Mukherjee said at the 10th National Convention of Confederation of Real Estate Developers` Associations of India.

Currently, nearly 300 million people live in urban areas in India, which is almost equal to the population of the United States and larger than the population of many countries put together.

However, the percentage of population living in urban areas is quite low in India. Only 28 percent Indian people live in cities and suburbs against the worldwide average of over 50 percent.

The finance minister said the trend in India was set to change on the back of high economic growth.

"We already have 393 urban agglomerations and towns with more than one lakh population and about 400 smaller towns with a population of more than 50,000," Mukherjee said at NATCON 2010 conference Thursday.

He said rising urbanisation gives birth to many challenges and at the same time offers opportunities for development.

Addressing the gathering of nearly 600 real estate developers and heads of financial institutions, Mukherjee said providing housing facilities to people in urban areas was becoming a big challenge.

"I would place the desire to own a house or the need to have a roof over ones head as one of the basic desires of an individual or a family," he said.

India faces enormous housing shortage. Over 25 million homes are required to meet the existing housing needs, according to a survey conducted by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors ( RICS) recently.

"Fulfilling the dream of housing for all is an enormous task that the government alone would never be able to meet on its own," said Mukherjee.

"The private sector`s role is crucial as is the role of ultimate consumers. The real estate developers have to play a leading role in supplementing the efforts of the government," he added.

-PTI