Megacities Case Studies: Mumbai & Los Angeles

  • Created by: em42
  • Created on: 09-05-15 17:16

Mumbai: Facts

  • It is the largest city in India.
  • It is situated on a long, thin island in a natural harbour on the west coast, in the opening of Thane Creek
  • The area is heavily urbanised with an average population density of 30 000 per square kilometre.
  • It is growing rapidly from ~3 mn in 1952 to 14 mn in 2007 & a projected 26 mn by 2020.
  • The growth of Mumbai has brought wealth & power to some people who are living in comfortable upper & middle class homes.
  • However, over a million people live in Dharavi, one of the world's largest slums.
  • Slums are typical of rapidly changing economies.
  • Mumbai is at the heart of the growing Indian economy. It is home to 17 mn people & estimated to receive 600 new migrants every day.
  • 60% of Mumbai's population is living in poverty.
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Mumbai: Slumbai?

Mumbai holds a central position in Asia, with easy access to China & the West, has meant that it has become a global hub for the world's TNCs. It's success is largely based on out-source work. However, this growth has had many consequences:

  • 60% of the population live in poverty.
  • Many citizens live in slums.
  • Many of the streets in Dharavi are no more than 1/2 metres wide.
  • Average incomes are low (earnings of ~$65 per month).
  • Congestion, poor water quality & pollution is common.
  • 15 people die every day on the rail network.
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Mumbai: Why do people move there?

Pull factors:

  • Growth in outsourcing jobs from large TNCs e.g. in call centres.
  • Better quality of life.
  • Better services e.g. education, health & entertainment.
  • Better housing.
  • Better paid jobs.
  • Better opportunities.

Push factors:

  • Lack of services.
  • Lack of investment.
  • Lack of opportunities.
  • Rural poverty.
  • Drought & flooding.
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Mumbai: Dharavi


  • 80% of Mumbai's waste is recycled in Dharavi, nothing is considered to be rubbish; he aim is to turn everything into something new & useful.
  • The recycling industry in Dharavi is estimated to be worth nearly $1.5 mn/yr.
  • It employs almost 10 000 people, including children.
  • Workshops range form where aluminium smelters recycle drinks cans to where waste soap is melted & remoulded into new.


  • Families work at sewing machines, making shirts in assembly line fashion & the finished product is sold to a retail store buyer for ~17p.


  • Kumbharwada is the pottery zone; women mix clay for the men who make pots & bowls of all shapes & sizes.
  • The pottery is sold to a trading copany across the city that exports them around the world.
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Mumbai: Vision Mumbai

Mumbai has two main economic problems: its economic growth has slowed down & its quality of life has deteriorated. However, the plan to tackle these problems is Vision Mumbai & turn the city into a world class location by 2013, with state of the art transport systems & higher quality housing.

Main Aims:

  • Increase housing availability to reduce the number of people living in slums & make housing more affordable.
  • Raise adequate financing & reduce administrative expenditure.
  • Improve transport infrastructure, providing more train carriages & buses; increasing freeways & expressways & the amount of parking space.
  • Make governance more efficient & responsive, e.g. reduce time needed for building approval.
  • Boost economic growthto 8-10% pa, e.g. by focusing on services & making Mumbai a 'consumption centre'.
  • Upgrade other infrastructure (safety, water, sanitation, education & healthcare).
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Mumbai: Vision Mumbai Improvements

Transport:In 2008, Mumbai will open its first metro line. An elevated highway known as the sealink is currently being developed. Construction will also soon begin on a 25km bridge - connecting the city centre with towns on the other side of the bay. Mumbai is adding 160 energy efficient trains to the cities network.

Housing: More than 200 000 illegal slum dwellers have been moved. 450 000 shanties across the city have been destroyed. Dharavi has been given its own development project. New 7 storey apartments will be built in the area to house slum dwellers.

Environment: The city is creating 325 new open spaces. 300 extra public toilets will be built to deal with some of the sanitation problems.

Employment: Hoping to create 200 000 new service sector jobs in healthcare, finance & entertainment. 200 000 jobs will be created in the new industrial zone (they will be based on computer assembly & the fashion industry. Increase in construction employment by 500 000.

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Los Angeles: Facts

  • LA is a megacity but also a world city too.
  • It is linked or connected to other cities around the world; these connections between cities are what hold the global economy together.
  • LA forms part of the SanSan urban corridor, connecting San Francisco to San Diego.
  • This megalopolis is home to 24 mn people.
  • It is the second largest city in the USA.
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Los Angeles: Why did it grow?

  • The arrival of the railway in 1876 stimulated rapid growth, with 1/2 mn people arriving within 40 years.
  • Discovery of oil, opening of a Ford car plant & numerous manufacturing industries meant continued growth.
  • Aircraft industry took advantage of the good weather for civil & military test flights & production sites.
  • Development of the film industry in Hollywood.
  • By 1970, LA was the fastest growing city in the USA & by 2000 over 14 mn people lived in the metropolitan district.
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Los Angeles: Suburban Sprawl

LA is a sprawling urban mass. The arrival of electric tramways ('20s & '30s) & later freeways, meant that people could live further away from work on their own plot of land. The 1980s saw massive urban growth spreading out as far as the mountains & deserts. Another result of urban sprawl is that many communities now only exist as night time dormitory settlements.

Impacts of the sprawl include congested freeways, air pollution, loss of some of the best farmland & the decline of central LA.

Air pollution: LA sits in a basin. Cool surface air with warm air above creates an inversion & pollution is trapped above LA due to the San Gabriel Mountains preventing air from moving out of the basin. Exposure to pollution doubles the chances that children will develop cancer later in life.

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Los Angeles: Other Problems

  • Housing problems - caused by high rates of migration.
  • Urban tension - due to ethnic differences. In 1965 & 1992, there were serious race riots in the run-down inner city districts of Watts, South Central & Compton.
  • Work - a changing economy (deindustrialisation), has resulted in the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs. Replacement jobs are often low paid.
  • Water - piped in from 350 km away causes disputes with neighbouring countries & states.
  • Waste - 24 mn people produce 50 000 tonnes of waste every day.
  • Health & education - many migrants are excluded becuase they cannot afford to pay for these services.
  • Transport - there are 10 mn vehicles on the road, only 30% of people use public transport.
  • Massive energy use.
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Los Angeles: Doughnut city

LA is a city with a hole in the central downtown area, why?

  • Car, tyre & aircraft factories closed.
  • Businesses & people moved out of central areas.
  • Modern high tech electronics, aerospace & light manufacturing industries wanted large sites with car parks on the edge of the city.
  • Central areas declined, leading to dereliction & concentrations of poorer people in segregated areas.

As industrial sites developed on the periphery of the city limits, LA was also referred to as the city that turned itself inside out. Today the downtown hole has been filled & is dominated by the HQs of TNCs.

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Los Angeles: Land Use

Land use patterns have developed like patchwork. Wealthy areas are found in the inner city next to poor areas, and the same happens on the edge of the city.

Migrants & others of different ethnic groups groups often live in ethnic enclaves (part of a city in which the population is mainly from one ethnic group, often with its own religious beliefs & places of worship, together with shops & community centres).

Some are rich, some are poor, making the land use pattern more complicated.

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Los Angeles - Can it be sustainable?

The Progreesive LA Network (PLAN) proposes an agenda for sustainable living. The emphasis is on issues ranging from transport, the urban environment, food & nutrition to economic development, housing & workers' rights. It really means to give residents more control over the future of their city.

Some of the proposals include:

  • Requiring employers to pay their workers a decent wage.
  • Providing community benefits such as childcare & affordable housing.
  • Promote safe walkable & bikeable neighbourhoods.
  • Promote clean fuel vehicles & green energy.
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