If India continues with the current trend of "poorly planned, sprawling and unconnected" pattern of urbanisation, it could impose an estimated cost of up to $1.8 trillion by mid-century to the country, a new study on Tuesday said.
"Better, smarter urban growth could be an economic opportunity for India worth up to 6 per cent of GDP by 2050," according to the latest research from the New Climate Economy.
The New Climate Economy is flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which is a major international initiative to examine how countries can achieve economic growth while dealing with the risks posed by climate change.
It provides independent and authoritative evidence on the relationship between actions which can strengthen economic performance and those which reduce the risk of dangerous climate change.
"Continuing the current poorly planned, sprawling, unconnected pattern of urbanisation could impose an estimated cost of between $330 billion and $1.8 trillion by mid-century. At the household level, this equates to more than 20 pc of average household incomes," the report said.
Analysing satellite data of night-time lights, this report finds that Indian cities that were more compact in 2002 experienced faster economic growth from 2002-2012 and that better, smarter urban growth could be an economic opportunity for India with significant savings at the household level.
"On average across a sample of 479 Indian cities, a 10 per cent increase in a city's dispersion index in 2002 is associated with a 0.4-0.9 per cent point decrease in economic growth over the subsequent period," it said.
It noted that there are a number of negative impacts or costs associated with India's current urbanisation model, ranging from increased costs of providing public infrastructure and services, transportation costs, traffic casualties, traffic congestion, air pollution, and health risks, among other considerations.
"The costs of providing public infrastructure and services are likely to be as much as 30 per cent higher in more sprawled, automobile-dependent neighbourhoods compared with more compact, connected locations.
"14 of the world's 30 most polluted cities are in India, and outdoor air pollution in Indian cities is estimated to cause around 1.1 million premature deaths per year. India also has the largest number of total traffic deaths of any country: 137,572 were officially reported in 2013," it said.