Census towns are largely the outcome of local populace forcing a change in their rural settings
“Kerala is a different story to the rest,” said Partha Mukhopadhyay, a senior research fellow at think tank Centre for Policy Research in Delhi. “There it’s desakota, the border between rural and urban is very hazy. The physical agglomeration was always there, but these were villages and so, from the census point of view, they were never part of an urban agglomeration. In the last 10 years, they have all reached that point and become urban.”
The term desakota (from the Indonesian words meaning village-city) describes a mix of agricultural and non-agricultural areas that sprawl in corridors between cities.
Boom in census towns
Population densities are high and labour is diverse—desakota are the perfect breeding grounds for census towns.
Census towns mimic statutory towns. While the latter are ordained by the state and hence acquires a governance mechanism through municipalities, census towns are largely an outcome of the local populace forcing a change in their rural settings.
In Kerala, with its pre-existing phenomenon of contiguity, this process has seen a natural acceleration in the last decade as people became more affluent, thanks to remittances from the Gulf, and the local economy prospered.
Not surprisingly then, Kerala saw the creation of 360 new census towns between 2001 and 2011, second only to West Bengal. According to Mukhopadhyay, the spurt of urbanization in the past decade in Kerala has been almost entirely powered by census towns. Their population is growing as migrants—from as far away as Assam, West Bengal and Orissa—move in.
Shamsheer Yousaf, Cordelia Jenkins and Anupama Chandrashekharan for live mint – 05 Oct. 2012
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