Forty Years’ Development Saga of Dhampur: Growth Dynamics and Regional Transformation of an Indian Small Town

Four Decades of Development in Dhampur

Images of urbanization are often associated with large metropolitan cities, though a significant proportion of India’s urban population live in smaller cities and towns, which are also growing faster than the megacities. 

At the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), this process of urbanization has been as much an area of focus as the study of specific cities. While CPR has worked on governance of megacities, it has concomitantly looked at the future of urbanization. More recently, in its work on Subaltern Urbanization, it has focused on the in-situ transformation of rural areas into urban settlements, and emphasized the autonomy and importance of small towns. Similarly, it has explored how approaches to infrastructure development and service provision differ by scale of settlements, notably in the use of decentralized systems. 

However, empirical evidence on the role of small towns in urban and regional development remains inadequate, and this is especially true for longitudinal empirical studies of small towns that analyze their changing growth dynamics over time. This study aims to address that gap.

The objective of this longitudinal study titled Forty Years’ Development Saga of Dhampur: Growth Dynamics and Regional Transformation of an Indian Small Town is to understand the changing growth dynamics and regional inter-dependence of Dhampur over time. It builds on the doctoral thesis of Dr. Pushpa Pathak titled Industrial Linkages and Regional Development: A Case Study of a Small Town, Dhampur, India1984, which would provide the earlier data base for this longitudinal study. It is expected that the study findings would offer some insights for formulation of policies and programs for the development of small towns in India, particularly relating to infrastructure development, economic growth and employment generation that are also likely to have a positive impact on the development of the surrounding rural areas. As India works towards meeting the sustainable development goals and the New Urban Agenda, this study expects to fill a critical knowledge gap about small towns in India, where a substantial share of urban India lives and thrives.

About Dhampur

Dhampur is located in the rich agricultural region of western Uttar Pradesh in District Bijnor. Dhampur was recognized as an urban settlement as early as in 1866. As per the Census of India 2011, the population of Dhampur Town or Nagar Palika Parishad was 50,997 and the population of Dhampur Urban Agglomeration was 66,813. Dhampur Sugar Mill, which started operations in 1933, is the largest industrial unit that continues to play an important role in the town’s economy, but there are also many smaller industrial units that provide employment and income generation in the town and surrounding villages.

The research study is led by Dr. Pushpa Pathak, Senior Visiting Fellow, CPR, and supported by Shubham Kashyap, Research Assistant, and Aena Rawal, Research Intern.