New paths to urbanization, from farms to factories

Job creation in India’s census towns, though on a large scale, has not benefited everyone

The census towns that have emerged in the last decade, after experiencing rapid and often haphazard growth, are not evenly spread across India. In fact, two-thirds of them are concentrated in just six states: West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, in that order.

Partha Mukhopadhyay, a senior research fellow at think tank Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, differentiates between the types of growth.

“We are seeing two kinds of urbanization,” he said, “one is suburban sprawl, and the other is more organic growth of towns and villages.”

His colleague Kanhu Charan Pradhan agreed. “Census towns are a state-specific story,” said Pradhan, who is working on a draft paper on the subject.

As part of his research, Pradhan used Google Maps to plot the locations of the 2,500-odd census towns that emerged between 2001 and 2011 on a map of India. The visual effect is striking: dark clusters form around industrial towns such as Kolkata, Chennai and Ranchi; a dense impregnable line of “desakota” (high density, rural-urban agglomeration) runs down the Kerala coast, and smaller bursts appear around Hyderabad, Allahabad, Varanasi and western Uttar Pradesh.

“It’s in-fill development,” said Mukhopadhyay. “A lot of that is happening in Kancheepuram. Some areas just suddenly start to grow very rapidly; urbanization didn’t happen in Delhi, it happened in Gurgaon and Bangalore, and the villages nearby were swallowed. In Chennai, it’s the same.”

His theory is borne out by data. Of the 265 new census towns that have appeared in Tamil Nadu since 2001, 39 are in the northern district of Kancheepuram that borders Chennai and has the highest urban growth rate in the state—65.33% in 2001-2011.

Cordelia Jenkins, Anupama Chandrashekharan and Makarand Gadgil for live mint – 05 Oct. 2012

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edenis (2012, October 5). New paths to urbanization, from farms to factories. SUBURBIN - ANR. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from