Asia's already teeming cities will grow rapidly in the 1990s, requiring major efforts to provide adequate housing, communications and transport, an Asian Development Bank study said Tuesday.
The bank predicted that by the end of the century, 12 of the world's 25 largest urban centers will be in developing Asian countries.They will include the Indian cities of Calcutta, with a population forecasted to increase from 9.5 million to 16.5 million, and Bombay, predicted to rise from 8.5 million to 16 million.
Many of the future super cities are already jammed with hundreds of thousands of squatters, beggars and unskilled laborers who have flocked to urban centers to escape poverty in the countryside.
The population increase "will place considerable strain on municipal services such as water supply, electricity, transport facilities, housing, communications and public health services," the report says.
"Adequate provision of these support systems will thus require major efforts in planning and development," it adds.
The study attributes the predicted increase in city dwellers on a shift from agriculture to industry and continuing high birth rates.
"India will thus have to cope with an additional 98 million urban dwellers, China with 73 million, Indonesia with 25 million and Thailand with 7 million over the 1990s," the bank said.
According to the bank, Asian economies will continue to grow at a healthy rate through the coming decade, although "regional disparities" will still be profound.
The study says Asian nations averaged an economic growth rate of more than 6 percent a year in the 1970s and 1980s, bringing vast improvements in the quality of life in nations such as South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.
However, the report says that "despite all that has been achieved in terms of increases in production and improvements in social conditions, Asia still remains the habitat of half a billion persons living lives of deprivation and extreme poverty."
It says the number of women of childbearing age is expected to increase from 640 million to nearly 900 million throughout Asia's developing countries - excluding China - by the end of the century.
"The need to control population growth will remain pressing in lower-income (countries)," the report says.