Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Delhi's population grows slowest in 100 yrs

NEW DELHI: Adding just 30 lakh people in the last 10 years, Delhi experienced its slowest population growth in almost a century. The decadal growth rate of 21% was less than half the figure of 47% for the previous decade. Census officials attributed this to a combination of declining fertility and mass slum demolitions. 

Provisional district-level data released by Varsha Joshi, director of census operations for NCT, on Monday said this is the lowest decadal growth rate since 1921. 

The population of 1.68 crore is therefore also much less than the 1.85 crore projected for 2011 after the 2001 census. "It is time to stop thinking in terms of over-population. Delhi's population is stabilizing... and the focus now needs to be on delivering services to the people," Joshi said. 

However,with the population of major cities in the larger urban agglomeration — Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad — expected to post a large increase, 'greater Delhi' is likely to have grown much faster than these numbers suggest. Slums gone, people moved out Displaced & Missing Only 32,000 families have been relocated in rehabilitation colonies in Northwest and South districts. 

The slowdown is also attributed majorly to the drop in fertility rate Delhi has experienced its slowest population growth in almost 100 years; but 'greater Delhi' or the NCR region may have seen a substantial hike in population. Since these satellite cities come under Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, which are yet to release their district-level data, the picture of the urban sprawl's growth as a whole remains incomplete. 

Within Delhi, the population of the two smallest districts in the heart of the NCT – New Delhi and Central Delhi – has declined sharply by 25.4% and 10.5% respectively. This means that New Delhi lost a quarter of its population over the last 10 years, while Central Delhi lost over a tenth. 

This trend was seen in Mumbai city, too, which experienced a 6% drop in its population. New Delhi and Central Delhi are, however, Delhi's smallest districts in terms of population. New Delhi, which extends from the edge of Jhandewalan in the north to Chanakyapuri in the south, houses most of the city's government buildings and has a resident population of just 1.3 lakh. 

Central Delhi extends from Karol Bagh in the west to the Yamuna and includes Old Delhi. Joshi attributed the fall to the removal of slum settlements and the consequent displacement of poorer residents. 

New Delhi's population declined once in the past between 1971 and 1981, but at a much slower rate.

Central Delhi's population, meanwhile, has been dropping every decade since 1971. Where the core is shrinking, the periphery is expanding. 

The fastest growing district was South-West Delhi, which adjoins Haryana and includes Najafgarh, Dwarka, Dhaula Kuan, R K Puram, Vasant Vihar and Delhi cantonment. The new sub-city of Dwarka is a major growth pole here, as is Najafgarh. 

The next fastest growing district is also Delhi's largest, North-West Delhi, which includes Narela, Alipur, Mangoplpuri, Wazirpur and Rohini. This district is the largest in size and also has the largest population, 36.5 lakh. It is home to several rehabilitation colonies of people displaced from elsewhere in the city as also industrial estates. 

In every district, though, the growth rate is less than it was in the previous decade. This slowdown could largely be attributed to a fall in fertility – the proportion of population in the 0-6 age group has fallen from 14.56% in 2001 to 11.76% in 2011. This is in line with a generalized decline in fertility in most of the country. 

Such is the fall in fertility that Delhi's 0-6 population has declined in absolute terms too by 46,000. Joshi also attributed the fall to the removal of slum settlements in the Yamuna-Pushta belt, Gautam Nagar and Kalka Mandir as well as from various parts of the city during the run-up to theCommonwealth Games. Of the several lakh people displaced as a result of these demolitions, only 32,000 families, or 1.5 lakh people, have been officially relocated in rehabilitation colonies in the North-West and South districts. This leaves lakhs of people unaccounted for. They may have settled in slums elsewhere or may have left the city, Joshi said. 

Another trend that affected population was the conversion of residential areas into commercial ones, thus using up housing stock, most visible in Old Delhi and Karol Bagh, Joshi said. As a result, long-time residents were moving to more distant parts of the NCR, she added. Delhi's population density rose from 9,340 persons per sq km in 2001 to 11,297 persons. This is still far behind other metros like Mumbai, where it is well over 20,000 people.

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