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Wednesday, June 24, 1998 Published at 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK


The cost of the city

Cities in India suffer high road fatalities

Road accidents - the least-recognised of urban disasters - are set to become one of the biggest causes of death and disability in the world.

Mike Wooldridge on the risks of inner city growth
The Red Cross says the administration of fast-growing cities will be one of the biggest challenges for developing countries in the future.

The hope of a job draws many people to cities of all sizes, and in poorer countries, the intensive urban crowding leads to huge environmental hazards.

The cost of road accidents to developing nations is said to be almost equivalent to the aid they receive, and according to experts, is likely to increase.

KT Ravindran, of the Delhi School of Planning, says that richer people are already fleeing cities to escape traffic and pollution.

"All these mega-cities that we see will be like dinosaurs. They are too big to survive," he said.

[ image: Bombay's roads have to cope with 5m commuters a day]
Bombay's roads have to cope with 5m commuters a day
"The people who can afford to keep the city going will move out of the city. And the poorer people and the middle-class people will be left behind. And with the investment will go the jobs."

Bombay is a dramatic example of a city groaning under the pressure of its fast growth. It had a population of 2 million in 1950, but is expected to be home to nearly 28 million in the year 2015, more than half of them squatters.

The city and its roads are increasingly choked. Bombay's 5 million commuters travel in buses, cars, bicycles and motorised rickshaws - often in lethal proximity.

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