Unacknowledged Urbanisation: The New Census Towns of India

1 August 2012

The unexpected increase in the number of census towns (CTs) in the last census has thrust them into the spotlight. Using a hitherto unexploited dataset, it is found that many of the new CTs satisfied the requisite criteria in 2001 itself; mitigating concerns of inflated urbanisation. The new CTs account for almost 30% of the urban growth in last decade, with large inter-state variations. They are responsible for almost the entire growth in urbanisation in Kerala and almost none in Chhattisgarh. Consequently, the estimated contribution of migration is similar to that in previous intercensal periods. Further, while some new CTs are concentrated around million-plus cities, more than four-fifths are situated outside the proximity of such cities, with a large majority not even near Class I towns, though they form part of local agglomerations. This indicates a dispersed pattern of in-situ urbanisation. A growing share of urban population in these CTs is thus being governed under the rural administrative framework, despite very different demographic and economic characteristics, which may affect their future growth. 

The unexpected increase in the number of census towns (CTs) in the last census has thrust them into the spotlight. Using a hitherto unexploited dataset, it is found that many of the new CTs satisfied the requisite criteria in 2001 itself; mitigating concerns of inflated urbanisation. The new CTs account for almost 30% of the urban growth in last decade, with large inter-state variations. They are responsible for almost the entire growth in urbanisation in Kerala and almost none in Chhattisgarh. Consequently, the estimated contribution of migration is similar to that in previous intercensal periods. Further, while some new CTs are concentrated around million-plus cities, more than four-fifths are situated outside the proximity of such cities, with a large majority not even near Class I towns, though they form part of local agglomerations. This indicates a dispersed pattern of in-situ urbanisation. A growing share of urban population in these CTs is thus being governed under the rural administrative framework, despite very different demographic and economic characteristics, which may affect their future growth.