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Home / India News / Areas not affected by Covid-19 mostly in rural areas: Data

Areas not affected by Covid-19 mostly in rural areas: Data

The government on April 15 classified 170 districts as Covid-19 hotspots -- those which have reported large outbreaks or multiple clusters of cases -- and 207 other districts as non-hotspot areas, those where only limited clusters of cases were reported.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2020 19:48 IST
Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa
Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Although nearly every second district in the country is classified as a green zone, these districts are home to only a third of India’s population, according to the 2011 Census.
Although nearly every second district in the country is classified as a green zone, these districts are home to only a third of India’s population, according to the 2011 Census. (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

When the nationwide lockdown imposed to slow the spread of the Coronavirus disease ends – for now it is expected to end on May 3 – restrictions are likely to be first eased in predominantly rural areas of India, a Hindustan Times analysis shows. This is because the green zones, or districts not affected by the pandemic, are mostly in rural areas. This also means the economy of these regions is largely agriculture driven; they are also not hubs of migration.

The government on April 15 classified 170 districts as Covid-19 hotspots -- those which have reported large outbreaks or multiple clusters of cases -- and 207 other districts as non-hotspot areas, those where only limited clusters of cases were reported. This leaves more than 300 of the country’s 731 districts which were not affected by the pandemic, classified as non-infected districts or green zones.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, in a meeting with chief ministers, placed particular emphasis on green zones, saying these regions would contribute to economic activity while practising social distancing, which is widely seen as a sign that lockdown will continue in red zones while there can be further relaxations in the less affected regions.

Coronavirus outbreak: Full coverage

Although nearly every second district in the country is classified as a green zone, these districts are home to only a third of India’s population, according to the 2011 Census. Of India’s 1.21 billion people, about 376 million people live in the districts now classified as green zones. These are predominantly rural areas – while nearly 69% of India’s population lives in rural areas, the share of rural population in the green zones is relatively higher at 84%.

To be sure, this is a close approximation for present times because the population figures would have changed since the Census was last conducted, and some district boundaries have also changed since then.

That more than half of the confirmed Covid-19 cases have been reported from 15 predominantly urban districts of India – including in Delhi and Mumbai – also points to the fact that it is the rural areas that are relatively less affected by the pandemic.

The pattern is similar across big states, which is to say that the share of rural population in a state’s green zone districts is relatively higher than the overall share of rural population in the state. For instance, the overall share of rural population in Maharashtra is 55% but the share of rural population in its green zones is nearly 74%. Kerala is the only exception to this among big states where the share of rural population in green zones is less (33%) than its share in the total population (52%).

No big urban cluster is part of the green zones. In fact, there are a very few green zone districts with significant urban population, such as Yaman district of Puducherry (no rural population), the uni-district union territory of Lakshadweep (22% rural population), Kozhikode district of Kerala (33% rural population) and Imphal West district of Manipur (38% rural population).

The working population in the green zones is largely engaged in agriculture. According to the 2011 Census data, the green zones were home to nearly 150 million workers, of whom about 100 million (or 67%) were cultivators or agricultural labourers. The share of cultivators and agricultural labourers outside the green zone was 18 percentage points less at 49%.

Also, there were more than 37 million people who had migrated between states for reasons other than marriage, according to the 2011 Census. Of these, only 13% (or 5 million) had migrated to any of the green zone districts.

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