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Asian cities face population boom

7 years ago490 views

reuters

Reuters

This is Hong Kong's Mong Kok district, officially the most crowded place on earth.
On average, 130,000 people are squeezed into one square kilometre, that's about 900 people on a single football field.
Not surprisingly, residents complain of all forms of pollution and overcrowded public transport.
District councilor Paul Zimmerman says the stress can be telling, citing recent instances of people throwing acid from roofs.
Zimmerman says Hong Kong's challenge is urban renewal.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) DISTRICT COUNCILOR, PAUL ZIMMERMAN, SAYING:
"How do you allow more people to come into an area which is already of the greatest density in the world. So refinancing of older properties will require taller buildings so even more people can go and live there. But as you've sold the land and it's in private ownership, it's usually very difficult to create wider streets and provide better public amenities."
But Zimmerman adds as a mature city, the inflow of people into Hong Kong has eased, as more people are drawn to the mainland.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) DISTRICT COUNCILOR, PAUL ZIMMERMAN, SAYING:
"Actually, population (growth) has underperformed forecasts now, consistently for the last decade where we thought we were going to be much higher and we're coming down much lower with our population growth."
In India though, the migration into cities is expected to rise sharply, and experts warn of huge strains on healthcare, education, and jobs.
The UN's Frederika Meijer says the influx will see the poorer population growing in many cities.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FREDERIKA MEIJER, UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND (UNFPA) INDIA REPRESENTATIVE, SAYING:
"Urbanisation will be on the rise, migration will be on the rise, because livings will be less in rural areas so they will come to the cities. Cities need to plan well because, urbanisation, I mean we know that health facilities in the slum areas are not yet very good so the government needs to really think through what it means. The poorer population will grow in the urban areas."
Asha Rani says the New Dehli slum she lives in now has more people, aggravating the already challenging conditions they face.
Experts say the upside for India is that its population growth has slowed.
The rate has long been a drag on India's economic growth, with governments unable to find the schools, jobs or food to match the demographic bulge.
And compared to Western countries, and even China, India has enough young people to supply labour markets, and fund the pensions of those who have retired.
Arnold Gay, Reuters.

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