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OPSC OAS Mains 2021 Geography Optional Question Paper II (Solution)

OPSC OAS Mains 2021 Geography Optional Question Paper II (Solution)

Geography (Paper-II) 
Time: 3 hours, Full Marks: 300


  • The figures in the right-hand margin indicate marks.
  • Candidates should attempt Q. No. 1 from Section-A and Q. No. 5 from Section-B, which are compulsory.
  • Choose any three of the remaining questions, selecting at least one from each Section.


Q. No. 1 (Compulsory)
On the outline map of India, mark the location of any ten of the following and write the most significant aspect of each of those in not more than 30 words. Total Marks: 60

(a) Pasighat
(b) Ashambu Hills
(c) Talakaveri
(d) Sambhar Salt Lake
(e) Mawsynram
(f) Jalaput Dam
(g) Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary
(h) Interview Island
(i) Vakala Cliff
(j) Dudhsagar Falls
(k) Dausa District
(l) Mahabaleshwar

Q. No. 2 “Too much water and Too little water is dangerous.” Justify this statement with suitable examples from India. Total Marks: 60

Q. No. 3 Describe the implications of using higher doses of fertilizers on the environment and human health, taking any Indian state benefited under the green revolution. Total Marks: 60

Q. No. 4 Give an account of the influence of topography on the development of rail transport in India. Discuss its role in the economic development of the country. Total Marks: 60


Q. No. 5 (Compulsory) Answer any three of the following:  Total Marks: 60

(a) Increasing aging population in India
(b) Distinguish between Bhubneshwar and Chandigarh as planned cities
(c) Kalapani boundary dispute
(d) Stubble burning in north India

Q. No. 6 Describe the concept of COVID-19-led reverse migration and its impact on rural areas with special reference to Odisha. Total Marks: 60

Q. No. 7 What are the salient features of slums? Analyse the growth of million cities in India in the last two decades. Total Marks: 60

Q. No. 8 Discuss the concept of integrated watershed management. Critically examine the government initiatives for the development of backward areas in India. Total Marks: 60



Q. No. 1 . On the outline map of India, mark the location of any ten of the following and write the most significant aspect of each of those in not more than 30 words. Total Marks: 60

(a) Pasighat: Located in Arunachal Pradesh, Pasighat is a prominent town situated on the banks of the Siang River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra. It serves as a gateway to the eastern Himalayas.

(b) Ashambu Hills: Found in Tamil Nadu, the Ashambu Hills are a range known for their lush greenery and biodiversity, contributing to the Western Ghats’ unique ecosystem.

(c) Talakaveri: Situated in Karnataka, Talakaveri marks the source of the River Kaveri. It’s a significant pilgrimage site and the origin point of one of South India’s major rivers.

(d) Sambhar Salt Lake: Located in Rajasthan, the Sambhar Salt Lake is the largest inland salt lake in India. Salt extraction and migratory bird habitats are vital aspects here.

(e) Mawsynram: In Meghalaya, Mawsynram holds the record for the highest annual rainfall globally, shaping the unique landscape and water management practices.

(f) Jalaput Dam: Found in Odisha, the Jalaput Dam harnesses the Machkund River, aiding irrigation and power generation in the region.

(g) Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary: Situated in Odisha, Kuldiha is a biodiversity hotspot with rich flora and fauna, including the endangered Indian pangolin.

(h) Interview Island: Located in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Interview Island is known for its pristine beaches and unique marine life.

(i) Vakala Cliff: In Kerala, Vakala Cliff offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea, attracting tourists and adventure enthusiasts.

(j) Dudhsagar Falls: Found on the Goa-Karnataka border, Dudhsagar Falls is a majestic cascade and a key attraction in the Western Ghats.

(k) Dausa District: In Rajasthan, Dausa District features the Mehandipur Balaji Temple and the Abhaneri stepwell, showcasing the region’s cultural heritage.

(l) Mahabaleshwar: Situated in Maharashtra, Mahabaleshwar is a hill station known for its scenic beauty, strawberry cultivation, and ancient temples.

OPSC OAS Mains 2021 Geography Optional Question Paper II (Solution)

Q2. “Too much water and Too little water is dangerous.” Justify this statement with suitable examples from India.

Ans: The statement “Too much water and Too little water is dangerous” underscores the dual risks posed by water extremes. In both cases, these extremes can have severe consequences for communities and ecosystems. Let’s explore this concept with examples from India.

Too Much Water: Excessive rainfall leading to floods is a prime example of “too much water.” The devastating floods that occurred in Uttarakhand in 2013 serve as a poignant illustration. The region experienced heavy monsoon rains, causing flash floods and landslides. The flooding led to the loss of thousands of lives, destruction of infrastructure, and displacement of communities. The Kedarnath tragedy is a stark reminder of how unchecked water levels can transform into a calamity, impacting lives, livelihoods, and local economies.

Similarly, the annual floods in Assam and Bihar showcase the peril of excess water. The Brahmaputra River’s recurrent floods have become a recurring disaster, displacing millions, damaging crops, and eroding riverbanks. These examples underscore the need for effective flood management strategies, such as improved embankments, early warning systems, and sustainable land use planning to mitigate the consequences of excessive water.

Too Little Water: Conversely, water scarcity poses its own set of challenges. Latur in Maharashtra serves as a stark example of the dangers of “too little water.” The region faced an acute water crisis due to depleting groundwater levels and deficient rainfall. This scarcity led to water rationing, with residents receiving water only once in 15 days. Agriculture, the backbone of the local economy, was severely affected, resulting in crop failure and economic distress. Such situations highlight the vulnerability of communities dependent on agriculture and the urgent need for efficient water resource management.

Additionally, India’s arid regions, like Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat, experience chronic water scarcity due to low rainfall and inadequate water infrastructure. The lack of accessible water affects sanitation, hygiene, and overall well-being. It also underscores the importance of sustainable water conservation practices, rainwater harvesting, and innovative water management approaches.

In conclusion, the statement “Too much water and Too little water is dangerous” is aptly illustrated by the contrasting scenarios of floods and water scarcity in India. Both situations demonstrate how extreme water conditions can disrupt ecosystems, impact human lives, and challenge economic stability. Effective water management, infrastructure development, and community awareness are key to mitigating these risks and achieving a sustainable balance between water excess and scarcity.

Q. No. 3 Describe the implications of using higher doses of fertilizers on the environment and human health, taking any Indian state benefited under the green revolution. Total Marks: 60

Ans: The use of higher doses of fertilizers, particularly during the Green Revolution, brought about significant agricultural transformations in India. However, these practices also raised concerns about their environmental impact and potential health risks for humans. Let’s delve into the implications while focusing on the state of Punjab, which greatly benefited from the Green Revolution.

Environmental Implications:

  1. Soil Degradation: The excessive use of fertilizers, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium compounds, disrupts the natural nutrient balance in soils. This leads to nutrient imbalances, soil acidification, and reduced soil fertility over time. Punjab, a prime example, experienced soil degradation due to relentless chemical inputs, affecting long-term agricultural sustainability.
  2. Groundwater Contamination: The leaching of excess fertilizers into the soil profile can contaminate groundwater with nitrates and other chemicals. Punjab’s intensive agriculture, reliant on fertilizers, has contributed to high levels of nitrate contamination in groundwater. This poses health risks, particularly for infants, causing methemoglobinemia or “blue baby syndrome.”
  3. Eutrophication: Runoff from fields carrying surplus fertilizers ends up in rivers and water bodies, triggering eutrophication. Punjab’s water bodies, like the Sutlej and Beas rivers, suffer from excessive nutrient enrichment, leading to algal blooms, oxygen depletion, and disruption of aquatic ecosystems.
  4. Loss of Biodiversity: The focus on high-yield monocultures encouraged by Green Revolution practices reduced crop diversity and ecosystem resilience. Punjab, once a region of diverse crops, now heavily depends on wheat and rice. This loss of biodiversity affects pest management, soil health, and overall ecosystem stability.

Health Implications:

  1. Food Safety: Excessive fertilizer use can lead to the accumulation of nitrates in crops, particularly leafy vegetables. Consuming such crops raises health concerns, as high nitrate intake is linked to health issues such as gastric cancer and methemoglobinemia.
  2. Air Quality: The release of ammonia and nitrogen oxides from fertilizers contributes to air pollution and the formation of particulate matter. Inhaled fine particles can lead to respiratory issues, affecting both farmers and nearby communities.
  3. Health of Agricultural Workers: Farm laborers exposed to high doses of fertilizers without adequate protective measures are vulnerable to health risks. Direct contact with chemicals can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and other health complications.

Punjab’s Green Revolution Experience:

Punjab’s agricultural success story owes much to the Green Revolution’s intensive cultivation techniques, including increased fertilizer usage. The state became the “Granary of India,” significantly boosting food production. However, this achievement came at a cost. The over-reliance on chemical inputs led to environmental degradation, declining soil health, and health issues in farming communities.

In conclusion, while higher doses of fertilizers played a role in increasing agricultural productivity, the implications for the environment and human health cannot be ignored. The case of Punjab exemplifies the dual nature of such practices – offering short-term gains but raising long-term challenges. Sustainable agriculture practices, including precision nutrient management, organic farming, and integrated pest management, are crucial to mitigate these implications and ensure a balanced approach to agricultural development.

Q. No. 4 Give an account of the influence of topography on the development of rail transport in India. Discuss its role in the economic development of the country. Total Marks: 60

Ans: The topography of a region has profoundly shaped the development of rail transport in India, playing a pivotal role in the country’s economic growth and connectivity. The intricate interplay between terrain and rail infrastructure has brought about both challenges and opportunities that have significantly impacted India’s development.

Influence of Topography:

  1. Himalayan Challenges: The rugged terrain of the Himalayas posed formidable challenges for rail development. The construction of the Kalka-Shimla Railway, an engineering marvel, overcame steep gradients, sharp curves, and challenging landscapes. The topography necessitated the use of unique features like the ‘Zig Zag’ track layout. Similarly, the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line, proposed to connect Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, encounters challenging altitudes and terrain.
  2. Western Ghats Adaptations: The Western Ghats’ formidable geography required innovative rail solutions. The Konkan Railway, a symbol of engineering prowess, navigated the region’s steep slopes, dense forests, and high rainfall. The Konkan line includes over 2,000 bridges and more than 90 tunnels, reflecting the adaptation of rail routes to challenging topography.
  3. Coastal Connectivity: India’s coastal regions necessitated rail routes that embrace the coastline’s contours. The Konkan Railway exemplifies this by connecting Maharashtra’s coastal towns and enhancing trade and tourism.

Role in Economic Development:

  1. Trade Facilitation: Rail transport’s strategic alignment with topography facilitates the movement of goods and commodities. The Western and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridors aim to optimize freight movement, reducing transit time and costs. This connectivity is pivotal for industries, trade, and export-import operations, bolstering economic growth.
  2. Industrial Hubs: Railways played a pivotal role in establishing industrial hubs. The emergence of coalfields in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh led to rail connectivity, enabling efficient coal transportation for power generation. Similarly, the connectivity of iron ore-rich regions in Odisha contributed to the growth of the steel industry.
  3. Agricultural Growth: Railways have played a crucial role in transporting agricultural produce to markets. The fertile Gangetic plains have seen the establishment of rail networks facilitating the movement of grains, contributing to agricultural trade and food security.
  4. Tourism and Regional Development: Railways have unlocked tourism potential in remote areas. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Tamil Nadu and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in West Bengal attract tourists and support local economies.
  5. Inclusive Growth: Rail connectivity promotes inclusive growth by linking rural areas to urban centers. The rail network in India’s heartland, like the Indo-Gangetic plains, has facilitated labor mobility, access to education, and healthcare, thus contributing to balanced development.

In conclusion, the influence of topography on rail transport in India cannot be overstated. The challenges posed by diverse terrains have led to innovative engineering solutions, enabling rail connectivity where it was once deemed impossible. This connectivity, in turn, has played a vital role in India’s economic development. Railways have facilitated trade, industrialization, agricultural growth, tourism, and overall regional development. The evolving rail infrastructure continues to bridge geographical barriers, fostering socio-economic progress across the nation.

Q. No. 5 Answer any three of the following: Total Marks: 60

(a) Explain the Increasing Aging Population in India.

India is currently experiencing a demographic transition characterized by an increasing aging population. This phenomenon is the result of declining birth rates and improved life expectancy due to advancements in healthcare and living conditions. While this shift reflects societal progress, it also brings about several economic, social, and healthcare challenges.

Economic Implications:

  1. Labor Force Dynamics: An aging population can lead to a shrinking workforce as a significant portion of the population transitions into retirement. This demographic shift can potentially impact productivity, innovation, and overall economic growth.
  2. Pension and Social Security: The increasing number of retirees places a burden on pension systems and social security programs. Governments need to ensure sustainable funding mechanisms to support the elderly population.

Healthcare Implications:

  1. Healthcare Services Demand: The elderly require more healthcare services, leading to increased demand for medical facilities, geriatric care centers, and specialized treatments for age-related ailments.
  2. Chronic Diseases: Aging is often associated with the prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and neurodegenerative disorders. Addressing the healthcare needs of this population becomes critical.

Social Implications:

  1. Dependency Ratio: The dependency ratio, the proportion of non-working individuals to the working population, increases with an aging population. This can strain the resources available for the elderly care.
  2. Intergenerational Dynamics: The changing demographic structure impacts intergenerational relationships and caregiving responsibilities. Balancing family and work obligations becomes complex.

Policy Considerations:

  1. Healthcare Infrastructure: The government needs to invest in healthcare infrastructure to accommodate the needs of the aging population. This includes geriatric clinics, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare services.
  2. Social Support Systems: Strengthening social support systems, such as pension schemes, insurance coverage, and caregiver support, is essential to ensure the well-being of the elderly.
  3. Active Aging Programs: Encouraging active aging through initiatives that promote physical and mental well-being can enhance the quality of life for the elderly.

In conclusion, the increasing aging population in India signifies societal progress but demands a comprehensive approach to address the challenges it presents. Economic planning, healthcare policies, and social support systems must evolve to cater to the needs of this demographic segment while ensuring their active participation in the country’s development.

Q. No. 5 (b) Distinguish between Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh as Planned Cities.

Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh are two distinct planned cities in India, each embodying unique design philosophies and serving specific purposes.

Bhubaneswar: Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, showcases a seamless blend of modern urban planning with traditional Indian architectural elements.

  1. Cultural Influence: Bhubaneswar integrates traditional temple architecture with urban planning, earning it the nickname “Temple City.” The Lingaraj Temple and Mukteshwar Temple reflect the city’s cultural roots.
  2. Grid Layout: The city follows a grid layout, designed to accommodate wider roads, open spaces, and planned residential areas. This layout promotes efficient traffic movement and urban organization.
  3. Green Spaces: Bhubaneswar emphasizes green spaces, with parks, gardens, and natural corridors that contribute to environmental sustainability and aesthetics.

Chandigarh: Chandigarh, designed by renowned architect Le Corbusier, represents modernist urban planning principles with an emphasis on functionality and aesthetic simplicity.

  1. Modernist Architecture: Chandigarh’s architecture is characterized by clean lines, geometric shapes, and functional design. The Capitol Complex, with its unique structures, exemplifies this approach.
  2. Sectoral Division: Chandigarh employs a sectoral division, segregating different functions into distinct sectors. This promotes organized land use, with clear zones for residential, commercial, and administrative activities.
  3. Open Spaces: The city’s design incorporates ample green spaces, including the famous Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake. These areas offer recreational opportunities and contribute to the city’s aesthetics.


  1. Architectural Style: Bhubaneswar integrates traditional Indian architectural styles, while Chandigarh adopts modernist design principles.
  2. Cultural Context: Bhubaneswar’s design is rooted in cultural and historical influences, whereas Chandigarh embodies a more global, modern vision.
  3. Layout: Bhubaneswar employs a grid layout with traditional elements, while Chandigarh uses a sectoral division with modernist architecture.
  4. Purpose: Bhubaneswar emphasizes heritage and modern urban living, while Chandigarh emphasizes functional efficiency and aesthetic simplicity.
  5. Architectural Legacy: Bhubaneswar preserves and showcases traditional architecture, whereas Chandigarh is renowned for its modernist architectural legacy.

In conclusion, Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh stand as distinct examples of planned cities, reflecting the diverse approaches to urban design and the integration of culture, history, and functionality.

Q. No. 5 (c) Explain the Kalapani Boundary Dispute.

Ans: The Kalapani boundary dispute pertains to a region located in the northwestern part of Nepal, near the India-Nepal-China trijunction. The disagreement revolves around the demarcation of the borders and sovereignty over the Kalapani area.

Historical Context: The roots of the dispute trace back to the Sugauli Treaty of 1815 between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Nepal. The treaty demarcated the Kali River as the boundary between the territories. However, the ambiguity in defining the origin of the Kali River has led to differing interpretations, fueling the boundary dispute.

Key Issues:

  1. Kali River Origin: The main point of contention is the actual origin of the Kali River. India follows the “river-stream principle,” while Nepal insists on the “ridgeline principle” as the basis for demarcation.
  2. Territorial Claim: Nepal claims that the Kali River originates from Limpiyadhura, further east than India’s claim of Lipulekh as the source. The Kalapani region lies between these two claimed origins.
  3. Strategic Significance: The Kalapani area is strategically important due to its proximity to the India-Tibet-China border. It holds geopolitical significance in the context of security and regional influence.

Geopolitical Implications: The Kalapani dispute has broader geopolitical implications for the region:

  1. India-Nepal Relations: The dispute strained India-Nepal relations, impacting cultural, economic, and diplomatic ties between the two countries.
  2. China Factor: China’s growing influence in the region adds complexity. The proximity of the disputed area to Tibet’s borders amplifies the geopolitical stakes.

Resolution Efforts:

  1. Bilateral Talks: India and Nepal have engaged in diplomatic dialogues to resolve the dispute through negotiation and mutual understanding.
  2. Surveys and Maps: Both nations have conducted surveys and reviewed historical maps to support their respective claims, but differing interpretations persist.
  3. Mediation: Regional organizations like SAARC have been suggested as potential mediators to facilitate a peaceful resolution.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the Kalapani boundary dispute underscores the intricate nature of territorial conflicts, history, and geopolitical considerations. While both India and Nepal recognize the need for a resolution, finding common ground has proven challenging due to differing interpretations of historical agreements and geographical features. The dispute’s significance extends beyond the immediate territorial claims, impacting regional dynamics, diplomatic relations, and even the broader balance of power in the region. A peaceful and mutually acceptable resolution to the Kalapani dispute is essential not only for India and Nepal but also for maintaining stability and cooperation in the South Asian region.

Q. No. 5 (d) Explain Stubble Burning in North India.

Ans: Stubble burning, a prevalent practice in northern India, involves setting fire to crop residues left in fields after the harvest. While often seen as a quick solution to clear fields for the next planting season, stubble burning has severe environmental, health, and economic consequences.

Causes and Context:

  1. Rice-Wheat Cropping Cycle: The practice is particularly common in the rice-wheat cropping cycle prevalent in states like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. Farmers burn rice stubble to quickly prepare fields for wheat planting.
  2. Short Time Window: The narrow time gap between harvesting rice and planting wheat leaves farmers with limited alternatives for crop residue management.

Environmental Impact:

  1. Air Pollution: Stubble burning releases harmful pollutants, including particulate matter, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds. This contributes significantly to air pollution and smog, especially during the winter months.
  2. Health Risks: Poor air quality resulting from stubble burning poses serious health risks, especially respiratory ailments and aggravated conditions for vulnerable populations.
  3. Global Warming: The release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from stubble burning exacerbates global warming, contributing to climate change.

Economic Consequences:

  1. Soil Health: Stubble burning deprives the soil of valuable organic matter and nutrients, impacting soil health and long-term agricultural sustainability.
  2. Loss of Income: The practice leads to the loss of potential income sources from converting crop residues into useful products like animal fodder or biofuel.

Mitigation Efforts:

  1. Mechanized Solutions: Promoting mechanized equipment like happy seeders and mulchers that effectively manage crop residues without burning.
  2. Government Initiatives: Governments have initiated subsidy programs to encourage the adoption of eco-friendly alternatives and discourage stubble burning.
  3. Awareness Campaigns: Educating farmers about the harmful effects of stubble burning and promoting sustainable agricultural practices is essential.


  1. Economic Pressures: Many farmers face economic constraints in adopting alternatives due to costs associated with equipment and lack of awareness.
  2. Time Constraints: The short window between harvests limits the adoption of certain alternatives, leading to continued stubble burning.

Impact on North India:

  1. Air Quality: Stubble burning contributes significantly to the notorious smog episodes in cities like Delhi during winter, affecting millions of people’s health.
  2. Economic Costs: The economic costs of healthcare and productivity losses due to air pollution are substantial.
  3. International Concerns: The transboundary effects of air pollution raise international concerns, impacting neighboring countries.

In conclusion, stubble burning is a complex issue with far-reaching consequences for the environment, public health, and the economy. A multi-pronged approach involving farmer education, mechanization, and policy support is necessary to address this practice sustainably and ensure a healthier and cleaner future for northern India and beyond.

Q. No. 6 Describe the Concept of COVID-19-led Reverse Migration and its Impact on Rural Areas with Special Reference to Odisha. Total Marks: 60

Ans: The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented circumstances, including a phenomenon known as “COVID-19-led reverse migration.” This refers to the large-scale movement of urban migrant workers back to their rural hometowns in response to job losses, economic uncertainties, and lockdowns in urban centers. This migration wave had significant implications, particularly for rural areas like Odisha.

Understanding COVID-19-led Reverse Migration:

  1. Trigger Factors: The sudden lockdowns and economic disruptions in urban areas forced many migrant workers to return to their villages. With job losses and a lack of livelihood opportunities, they sought refuge in their rural homes.
  2. Urban Vulnerability: Migrant workers, who often lived in cramped spaces and informal settlements, faced heightened vulnerability to the virus due to overcrowding and limited access to healthcare.

Impact on Rural Areas:

  1. Population Influx: The return of migrant workers led to a sudden increase in rural population. Villages witnessed a surge in population density, impacting local resources and infrastructure.
  2. Livelihood Challenges: The influx strained rural economies and resources. The sudden demand for jobs, housing, and basic amenities posed challenges for the already struggling rural infrastructure.
  3. Agricultural Sector: Many returning migrants turned to agriculture for sustenance. While this provided a source of livelihood, it also increased competition for land and resources, affecting small-scale farmers.
  4. Healthcare and Sanitation: The returnees posed a potential burden on rural healthcare facilities and sanitation systems. Managing healthcare for the increased population became a challenge.
  5. Social Dynamics: The reintegration of migrant workers into their villages brought about changes in social dynamics. The influx led to interactions between urban and rural cultures, impacting traditional norms.

Special Reference to Odisha:

Odisha, a state with a significant number of out-migrant workers, experienced the impact of reverse migration:

  1. Returnees’ Reintegration: Odisha witnessed the return of a large number of migrant workers from states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Delhi. This led to both opportunities and challenges in their reintegration.
  2. Agriculture and Livelihood: Many returnees engaged in agriculture, creating additional labor for the sector. However, this also highlighted the need for skill development and alternative livelihood opportunities.
  3. Healthcare Strain: The influx strained rural healthcare infrastructure. The state had to manage the health needs of both the local population and the returning migrants.
  4. Social Welfare Initiatives: The Odisha government initiated programs to support returnees, providing financial aid, food, and healthcare. This highlighted the importance of state-level interventions.

Government Response:

  1. Skill Enhancement: Governments at various levels started skill development programs to equip returnees with new skills, reducing their dependency on traditional sectors.
  2. Rural Employment Schemes: Initiatives like MGNREGA were expanded to provide employment opportunities to returning migrants, addressing immediate livelihood needs.
  3. Healthcare Infrastructure: Governments focused on strengthening rural healthcare facilities to cater to the increased population.


COVID-19-led reverse migration underscored the vulnerabilities of urban migrant workers and highlighted the need for a balanced approach to urban and rural development. The experience of Odisha exemplifies the challenges and opportunities presented by this phenomenon. The response to reverse migration necessitates a multi-faceted approach that addresses both short-term needs and long-term rural development goals.

Q. No. 7 What are the Salient Features of Slums? Analyse the Growth of Million Cities in India in the Last Two Decades. Total Marks: 60

Ans:  Salient Features of Slums:

Slums are characterized by several distinct features that reflect their unique socio-economic and spatial conditions:

  1. Overcrowding: Slums are often densely populated, with limited living space for each household. High population density contributes to health risks and inadequate living conditions.
  2. Inadequate Housing: Housing structures in slums are typically substandard, constructed with makeshift materials like tin, cardboard, and tarpaulin. They lack proper ventilation, sanitation, and basic amenities.
  3. Lack of Basic Services: Slums often lack access to clean water, sanitation facilities, and proper waste disposal systems. Residents rely on shared or communal resources, leading to health hazards.
  4. Informal Settlements: Slums emerge as informal settlements on lands not designated for housing. They often lack legal recognition and tenure security, leading to constant threat of eviction.
  5. Poverty: Slum dwellers usually face economic hardships, limited job opportunities, and inadequate access to education and healthcare. Poverty is a common denominator in slum populations.
  6. Social Marginalization: Slum communities often experience social exclusion and discrimination. This can hinder their access to public services and participation in decision-making.

Analysis of Million Cities’ Growth:

Over the last two decades, India has witnessed rapid urbanization and the growth of million cities (cities with a population of over one million). This growth has led to several significant trends and challenges:

  1. Population Explosion: Million cities have experienced a substantial increase in population due to rural-urban migration, leading to urban sprawl and challenges in managing resources and infrastructure.
  2. Infrastructure Strain: Rapid population growth has strained urban infrastructure, including transportation, housing, water supply, sanitation, and healthcare services.
  3. Slum Expansion: The growth of million cities has often been accompanied by the proliferation of slums. The influx of migrants seeking livelihood opportunities has contributed to the emergence of informal settlements.
  4. Housing Challenges: The demand for housing has outstripped supply in many million cities. This has led to increased pressure on housing markets, resulting in inadequate and expensive housing options.
  5. Urban Planning Deficits: Urban planning has struggled to keep pace with the rapid growth, leading to haphazard development, inadequate public spaces, and insufficient urban amenities.
  6. Economic Opportunities: Million cities are economic hubs, attracting job seekers from rural areas. However, the challenge lies in providing inclusive economic opportunities that address both skilled and unskilled labor needs.
  7. Environmental Impact: The rapid growth of million cities has led to increased pollution, congestion, and environmental degradation, impacting residents’ quality of life.
  8. Social Disparities: The growth of million cities often accentuates existing social disparities. Income inequality, lack of access to basic services, and inadequate social infrastructure can lead to urban poverty and social unrest.

Government Initiatives:

  1. Smart City Mission: The government launched the Smart City Mission to promote sustainable and citizen-friendly urban development, focusing on improved infrastructure, technology, and governance.
  2. Housing for All: The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana aims to provide affordable housing to urban poor, including slum dwellers, to improve their living conditions.
  3. Urban Infrastructure Upgrades: Government initiatives target enhancing urban infrastructure, including transportation, sanitation, and waste management.


The growth of million cities in India reflects the country’s urbanization journey, presenting both opportunities and challenges. The emergence of slums underscores the need for comprehensive urban planning, inclusive development policies, and sustainable housing solutions to create livable, equitable, and prosperous urban centers.

Q. No. 8 Discuss the Concept of Integrated Watershed Management. Critically Examine the Government Initiatives for the Development of Backward Areas in India. Total Marks: 60

Ans: Concept of Integrated Watershed Management:

Integrated Watershed Management (IWM) is a holistic approach to managing land, water, and related resources within a specific geographical area known as a watershed. The objective is to achieve sustainable development by integrating various aspects like soil conservation, water management, afforestation, agricultural practices, and socio-economic development.

Components of Integrated Watershed Management:

  1. Soil and Water Conservation: Implementing measures to prevent soil erosion, conserve rainwater, and recharge groundwater aquifers. Techniques like contour bunding, check dams, and terrace farming are employed.
  2. Afforestation and Reforestation: Planting trees and restoring degraded forests to enhance vegetation cover, prevent soil erosion, and promote biodiversity.
  3. Agricultural Practices: Promoting sustainable farming methods that conserve soil and water, such as crop rotation, agroforestry, and organic farming.
  4. Livelihood Enhancement: Integrating livelihood improvement activities such as livestock management, micro-irrigation, and non-farm income generation to uplift local communities.
  5. Community Participation: Involving local communities in planning and decision-making processes to ensure ownership, sustainability, and effective implementation.

Critical Examination of Government Initiatives for Backward Areas:

Positive Aspects:

  1. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY): This initiative aims to connect rural areas with all-weather roads, improving accessibility and fostering socio-economic development.
  2. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA): It provides a safety net by guaranteeing employment and income to rural households, contributing to poverty reduction.
  3. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY): This scheme focuses on rural electrification, enhancing the quality of life and enabling economic activities.
  4. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: The campaign for clean sanitation practices aims to improve public health and hygiene in rural areas.

Challenges and Criticisms:

  1. Implementation Gaps: Despite well-intentioned policies, execution often faces challenges like corruption, bureaucratic hurdles, and lack of accountability.
  2. Infrastructure Deficits: While schemes aim to provide basic amenities, issues like irregular electricity supply and inadequate road networks persist in many backward areas.
  3. Social Disparities: Initiatives might not fully address deep-rooted social inequalities, leading to uneven benefits distribution.
  4. Lack of Convergence: Many programs operate independently, resulting in a lack of synergy and less impactful outcomes.
  5. Sustainability Concerns: Ensuring the long-term sustainability of initiatives remains a challenge, especially when communities are not actively engaged in project planning and management.

Way Forward:

  1. Community Empowerment: Involving local communities in decision-making processes and emphasizing their role in implementing and maintaining development projects.
  2. Convergence of Schemes: Ensuring better coordination between various government schemes to maximize their impact and avoid duplication.
  3. Capacity Building: Strengthening local institutions and capacity-building efforts to effectively manage and sustain development projects.
  4. Monitoring and Evaluation: Regular monitoring and evaluation of projects to assess their progress, identify bottlenecks, and make necessary improvements.


Integrated Watershed Management is a comprehensive approach to sustainable development, addressing environmental, social, and economic challenges within a geographic region. While government initiatives for backward areas hold potential to uplift marginalized communities, critical examination reveals gaps in implementation and challenges in achieving equitable development. A combination of participatory planning, effective governance, and holistic approaches is crucial to ensuring the success and long-term impact of development initiatives in these areas.