Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Jul 10, 2005
Industry & Economy
Real Estate & Construction
Declining urban core
Owing to habitat destruction and urbanisation, the white rhino species has become endangered, informs a July 7 press release titled, `The Detroit Zoo Welcomes First-Ever White Rhino'. Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, famous for multi-facet illumination in his works, has said at the 22nd World Architecture Congress that small houses, as in Japan, might be a solution for Istanbul's urbanisation problems, according to the day's story on www.zaman.com.
But if you'd like to know the `trends and processes' closer home, here are inputs from Handbook of Urbanization in India, by K.C. Sivaramakrishnan, Amitabh Kundu and B.N. Singh, published by Oxford University Press (www.oup.com) .
For the first time the 2001 Census data have been used for the purpose, one learns from the dust jacket. "The realistic quantification of migration, its share of urban growth in large cities, the role of small and medium towns, and growth of large urban agglomerations are also considered," it adds.
`Overview' informs that the 1961 Census adopted two-fold criteria to identify urban centres. Thus, there were statutory towns as notified by the State governments, and census towns identified by the Census of India. "In the case of Tamil Nadu, the urban figures in 1991 could be underestimates, due to non-identification of a number of statutory towns," say the authors.
Though the national average of urbanisation, as a proportion of the population, is only 28 per cent, Tamil Nadu boasts of 44 per cent. The State compensated for its earlier conservative attitude and awarded the `urban civic' status quite liberally during the 1990s, state the authors. Amazingly, however, "Notification of a large number of towns as town panchayats in Tamil Nadu has constituted almost 80 per cent of thenew statutory towns of the country."
The rigorous application of census criteria gets diluted through such `discretionary' powers of the State government whereby a number of settlements enter the urban frame in a rather ad hoc manner, fret the authors, and argue for a "uniformity in economic and demographic criteria to maintain the distinction between a town and a village."
India's urbanisation, in comparison to the world's urban population, is more than 10 per cent and, as a percentage of Asia's urban population, 21 per cent. "There are 5,161 urban centres in the country, a thousand more than the number in 1981." A dismal statistic is that slum population accounts for 14.12 per cent of total urban population. Greater Mumbai tops the list in a table of `municipal corporations of million-plus cities' with almost 50 per cent, while Chennai's proportion is 25 per cent.
A chapter on `policy perspectives' urges that for better urban governance, "it will be much more practical and useful to have a tighter definition of urban area." It is better to have fewer municipalities, which can fulfil minimum municipal functions, than have a large number of sub-critical, non-performing entities classified as municipal only in name, say the authors.
"The mega cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad are witnessing higher growth in the periphery and a decline in the core," is a statement that should reflect in the growth rate of land values. But Bangalore is a lone exception, note the authors.
The book points out the emerging pattern of agglomerations, which coalesce with each other to form urban corridors. "Multi-municipal urban agglomerations require a metropolitan-wide perspective not constrained by narrow municipal definitions," emphasise the authors.
Useful read for urban planners and those in the `real' industry.
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |
Copyright © 2005, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line