Chandigarh, Sep 14 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said that urbanization was going to increase in the country and this would put more pressure on basic urban infrastructure.
In his address after handing over documents and keys to 10 flats to beneficiaries in a housing colony in Dhanas area under the city's slum rehabilitation scheme, the prime minister said that slums in the country reflect the problems that urbanization creates.
"In India, urbanization will increase rapidly in coming years. In 1971, our country's urban population was 11 crore. From 1971 to 2011, within 40 years, there has been an increase of 27 crore in urban population," Manmohan Singh said.
"In the next 20 years, urbanization will increase much faster. It is expected, to increase of 22 crore more (people)," he said.
Calling for making the country free from slums, the prime minister hoped that Chandigarh would soon become India's "first slum-free city".
Complimenting the authorities for constructing the flats, he said the rehabilitation scheme will help make Chandigarh slum-free.
"I hope Chandigarh becomes India's first slum-free city soon," Manmohan Singh said.
The prime minister arrived here Saturday to hand over keys to newly-built flats to slum dwellers.
A total of 8,448 flats will be handed over to slum dwellers as part of the scheme. Built under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM) by the Chandigarh Housing Board, the flats will accommodate over 40,000 people.
"We have over 10 crore people living in slums across the country. Urban centres are under pressure from rapid urbanisation," Manmohan Singh said.
Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil, Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda accompanied the prime minister to the site.
The union housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry has approved construction of around 25,000 flats for rehabilitation of the slum-dwellers in Chandigarh.
Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, is a 114-square-km union territory. It was conceived and built in the 1950s to showcase a modern, resurgent India.
In her address, union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Girija Vyas said: "A slum-free Chandigarh is a milestone in the long journey of a slum-free India."