Population Issues


In 1998, the UN estimated that the World’s population would reach 6 billion by 1999. (UN Report, 1998). the report also concluded that as the life expectancy of people is rising, the threat of over-population is real. The statistical prediction assumed that half of the population by 2006 would be urban, and this growth puts extra pressure on the Planet. The population of the planet reached 7 billion in 2011, and the current predictions, according to the report created by the Royal Society (2012) indicated that the growth will continue to be substantial. By 2050 the projected population would reach 8-11 billion.

Factors Influencing Population

The main factors that influence population are the number of births, life expectancy and population policies of different countries/regions. The Royal Society (2012) also mentions the income and family size, customs as contributing factors

            Kolkata, India: The Challenges

India is one of the most populated countries in the world. There is no restrictive population policy in place, which is similar to China’s, and every decade sees a growth of more than 20 percent, according to the Population Bulletin (2006). Being a high fertility and high mortality country, in the 1950-s population policies were put in place. These did not solve the problem and in 2000 the National Population Policy was introduced in some of the states. (Visaria, 2011)

Kolkata’s population almost doubled in the past 50 years. The 1951 census shows a population of 2.548.677 people, while in 2008 there were 5.021.458 residents. After the construction of the Salt Lake City (New Town) people moved into the city from the suburbs and villages. (Population and Housing in Kolkata, 2008)

The greatest effects of the population increase on the city were associated with over-population, such as illnesses, increased pollution and energy consumption, crowded living conditions, lack of access to health care and basic services, and poverty-related problems, such as crime. Many people live in authorized or unauthorized slums, in poor conditions; with no running water, often not even a front door. Infections are carried during the Monsoon by the rainfall by washing infectious water into the residential area. Many of these unauthorized slums are built by the canal. On the average, 13 people share a 45 square meter slum. While the Calcutta  Slum Improvement project has somewhat improved the living conditions and hygiene of these establishments, poverty is an issue that is the main source of bad health, nutrition and housing. Most of these homes, privately rented have no drainage facilities.

            The Solutions

            While there is a housing finance aid available for people living in poor conditions, this is not an option for those with no or only small income and large families to support. Malnutrition of children and adults accounts for most deaths in the area. Poor hygiene results in infections. (Kundu, 2003)

While the government and the Kolkota local authority have put policies in place to improve people’s living condition, health and economical well-being, the only solution to resolve the problem is to control population and provide alternative housing for people outside the city. Education and strict birth policies are the only effective ways of dealing with thee over-population affecting Kolkota and India. When the majority of people live on less than 1.5 dollars income a day, there is more to do than handing out contraceptive pills and giving advice about family planning. While some residents would refuse to use contraception because of their religion, there is a need for supporting education and providing employment nearby the city, which- of course – would involve the design of a large scale housing and economical project.


The World at Six Billion. UN Report. 1998. Online.                                         

Visaria, P. (nd) National Population Policy, Thematic Resources, Online.

Population and Housing in Kolkata (2008) Online.

Kundu, N. (2003) The Case of Kolkata, India. Online.

People and the Planet. (2012) The Royal Society. Online.