Cities are, in many ways, the future of India. The number of metropolitan cities with a population higher than one million jumped from 35 in 2001to 50 in 2011, and is expected to reach 87 by 2031. Today, 40 crore people call an Indian metropolis home. That will double by 2050.

This swift growth places huge pressure on infrastructure. A March 2011 report by a high-powered expert committee chaired by Isher Judge Ahluwalia ( found that the duration of water supply in Indian cities ranges from 1-6 hours; only about 21% of waste water generated is treated; and less than one-third of municipal solid waste is segregated. Two new research papers help us understand which policies will be most effective to help improve fast-growing Indian urban centres.

In ‘Andhra Pradesh Priorities: Urban Infrastructure’ ( by Parijat Dey and O Rajesh Babu, and in ‘Rajasthan Priorities: Urban Infrastructure’ ( by Gagan Nigam, Priyesh Shukla and Manish Gupta, the researchers first look at the costs and benefits of providing 100% sewerage and waste-water treatment to the major city of each state.


By using the language of costbenefit analysis, the two studies can help fill in evidence gaps, and provide decision-makers with valuable new data when they prioritise between competing uses for money.

What is clear is that India’s cities are burgeoning, and significant infrastructure needs to be developed to meet unmet demand and to keep pace with the growth.