As per the 1881 census, Delhi had a population of 183,944. The increase in the population of Delhi during the succeeding three decades was rather slow. By 1911, it had a population of 2.4 lakh. It was during this period that New Delhi was designated as the capital of British India. The area of the city was extended from 43 sq.
kms to 168 sq. kms. Thereafter, there had been a rapid growth of population.
There had been some fluctuations in the population growth during 1941-1951 owing to large-scale movement of population from India to Pakistan and Pakistan to India. At the time of independence, the total population of Delhi was a little over 14 lakh. The population grew to 23.59 lakh in 1961 and reached the mark of 36.47 lakh in 1971. In 1981, Delhi’s population was 57.
29 lakh (5.72 million) and as per 1991 census, its population rose to 8,375,188, while in 2001 it had crossed the 12.79 million mark, and in 2011, its population has become 168.5 million. The density of population is 11,297 persons per sq. km which is the highest the country (2011).
The North-East District of Delhi is the most populated with a density of 37,346 persons per sq. km. The sex ratio is 866/1000. The literacy rate is 86.3 per cent males and 81 per cent females. There is an increase in the literacy of 4.
6 per cent on 81.7 per cent of 2001. Delhi is one of the most polluted cities of the world. About 41 per cent of its population is living in slums.
Not only Delhi’s air, but also its water1 and soil are highly polluted. A survey conducted by the Central Ground Water Authority reveals high concentration of heavy metals in ground water sources in and around Delhi. The water is contaminated with fluorides, nitrates and even with some heavy metals such as lead, chromium and cadmium. Heavy metals do not dissolve in blood; instead they get deposited in the bones, teeth and soft tissues including those of the brain. Contaminated water can cause meningitis, bronchitis or conjunctivitis. The symptoms are nausea, inflammation of nose, excessive salivation and related kidney problems.
Urgent remedial steps need to be taken to save Delhi and its population from catastrophe.