For a long time, the state’s planners have been working on decongesting Mumbai by encouraging neighbouring areas like Navi Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli, Mira-Bhayandar and Vasai-Virar, all of which are in Thane district.
The strategy seems to have worked. According to the 2011 census, Thane district has shown the highest population growth in the state in the last decade. Thane has seen its population grow by 35.94 per cent from 81.28 lakh in 2001 to 1.10 crore in 2011, the highest in the state for any district according to the provisional data released by the Census Commissioner of India.
The population of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), that includes Mumbai and Thane districts, is now second only to Tokyo’s urban agglomeration.
The population growth in Thane was encouraged due to unaffordable real estate prices in Mumbai and infrastructure investment by the state.
The comparatively affordable land prices have made the 9,558 sq km landmass emerge as the district with the highest population growth in the state in the last decade.
For years, areas like Navi Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivli, Mira-Bhayandar, Bhiwandi, Ulhasnagar, Ambarnath, Kulgaon-Badlapur, Dahanu, Shahapur, Wada and Vasai-Virar have been termed as back-of-the-beyond, but affordable property prices in a spectrum of Rs 2,000-4,000 per sq ft and the promise of investment of Rs one lakh crore in the next two decades to improve transport services to the region, has meant the state government’s plan of driving population away from Mumbai seems to be reaping benefits.
Thane district has consistently shown an increasing growth rate due to its proximity to Mumbai. Mumbai’s growing attraction as a migrant city has meant that people have had to spill over to peripheral areas like Thane district.
Thane district, for the last three decades, has managed to keep up a 25 per cent growth rate every decade. Its population had increased exponentially in 1991-2001 by nearly 54.92 per cent from 52 lakh in 1991 to 81.31 lakh in 2001.