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New towns on the block

Birth pangs India’s youngest towns face myriad challenges: better civic amenities, jobs, education and healthcare. How are they faring?

india Updated: Aug 05, 2012 02:32 IST

According to Census 2011, 3894 semi-urban areas are now ‘census towns.’ These towns show that India’s urban spread is a story of growth. They also provide a roadmap for urban planners and policy makers to find ways to spread the benefits of development. Evidences of urban push are not hard to find. The construction boom - the rise of new malls, apartment complexes - has played a big part in changing the socio-economic landscape. We take a look at some of India's youngest towns to track their development, or the areas they are lagging behind in, despite the new-found ‘Census town’ status.

We look at four places that got anointed census towns in 2011 and two that have had that status since 2001. their stories reveal interesting insights

Villages that were designated towns in census 2011

One size doesn’t fit all: Gill and Trikaripur are happy about better roads, hospitals and schools, but the story has turned sour for Dabgram

Chitarpur, Jharkhand
Where Gods live and youths fly

Mohammad Tajuddin, 67, spent over three decades in Jamshedpur, one of India’s best planned cities, working for Tata Steel. Life would have been easier had he settled there with his children. But a couple of years ago, Tajuddin returned to his ancestral house in Chitarpur, a semi-urban block in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district, around 60 km north of the capital Ranchi.
“I love this place. I was born here. My childhood friends are here,” he said.
Chitarpur is famous for the ancient Jama Masjid built around 1670 and the Rajrappa temple of Goddess Kali.
The colliery of Central Coalfield Limited provides direct employment to 2200 people and indirectly to more than 10,000. But youngsters, especially Muslim boys, migrate to the Gulf in search of quick money.
Around 700 men from Chitarpur are working in the Middle East and together they send more than R2 crore every month. Almost every young man here wears branded clothes and shoes. After all, most of these come from the Gulf. —B Vijay Murty

Population 1,57,000

Why are they growing Remittances due to migration of youth to Gulf countries.

Positives of development

roads and power supply have improved

Negatives of development

The number of liquor shops has grown up from one to five in the last five years, more and better schools needed, and a specialty hospital

Gill, Punjab
Booming island of prosperity

Gill, barely 10 km away from Ludhiana, has seen commendable growth in the last two decades. The newly minted census town has successfully moved in the direction of education, and modernisation.
Agriculture is now a secondary choice for the younger generation. Gill is becoming a hub of entrepreneurs.
“If I do not get employment here, I will migrate to Australia with my elder brother,” said Sukhwinder Singh, 26, who holds a diploma from the nearby Guru Nanak Dev Polytechnic College. Migration to foreign countries is common here. Out of the 2892 households in Gill, more than 2000 households have one member settled in countries such as Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Germany.
The town has an industrial area of its own that has dozens of units manufacturing tractor parts, paint, sewing machine moulds and small tools. Not to miss is the lucrative dairy farming business which is mainly run by the Muslim community living here. —Anshu Seth

Population 7447
Why are they growing Remittances from people working in the US, Canada, Australia etc. Also, manufacturing units have sprouted- tractor parts, paints, sewing machine moulds and small tools etc.
Positives of development
A new engineering college set up
Negatives of development
Addiction to alcohol and other narcotic substances in young boys

Dabgram, WB
Siliguri’s poor country cousin?

If one looks at business establishments on either side of Dabgram’s Ghugumali Main Road, it would be hard to believe they are part of the same town. Shops north of the road lack the same civic amenities those on the south boast of.
Dabgram, with a population of 86,598, has witnessed rapid development in the last 10 years. Thousands of business establishments and buildings have mushroomed here. The town’s proximity to Siliguri (the heart of which is only 3 km away) is the reason why the population here has almost doubled since 2001.
Hardly 10% of total land here is under agriculture. Many industrial godowns, cottage industries like flour mills, plastic and steel industries have come up. Businesses from across the state, Assam and Sikkim have bought big plots, since prices are still low. Crime has drastically gone down since people readily get jobs in nearby Siliguri.
However, the new town’s birth pangs are many. Due to a lack of good schools, hospital and police out-post, people of Dabgram are totally dependent on Siliguri.—Pramod Giri

Population 86,598
Why are they growing
Proximity to Siliguri, availability of cheap land
Positives of development
Unemployment has decreased leading to a drastic reduction in the crime rate
Negatives of development
Lack of civic amenities, such as roads, drainage and electricity. The town also needs good schools, hospital and a police station

Trikaripur, Kerala
Thriving on Gulf remittances

Every day Sreeja, a class nine student, pedals 8 km to school. Sreeja's brand new cycle is not a freebie. Thanks to the booming construction industry in the area, her father, a mason, can afford one which he couldn't have dreamt of ten years ago. Earning R800 a day for his eight-hour shift, he owns a swanky bike and his son is studying in an English-medium school.

Trikaripur's economy was once controlled by agriculture and traditional sectors like beedi-making and weaving. Now these vocations have disappeared giving way to a flourishing construction industry. Remittances from the Middle East have changed the face of the village. Freshly coated concrete houses have mushroomed and agricultural land is slowly shrinking.

“Gulf boom has perked up construction activity in the village. Better returns forced many from traditional sectors to turn to construction. So it is natural – high income ensures better living conditions,” said folk art expert Dr V Jayaraj, who had witnessed the steady changeover.—Ramesh Babu

Population NA (19,357 in 2001)
Why are they growing Construction boom fuelled by remittances from the Middle East
Positives of development
Rising incomes, opening up of banks and a mall. An increase in the value of land
Negatives of development
Still dependent on nearby towns for good schools, loss of traditional vocations, such as beedi-making and weaving

...& new towns in census 2001

Paricha, UP
Plant workers have it good

Paricha gained a power plant in 1985 and stoked the hopes of its 800-odd inhabitants. Not much has changed in the 27 years hence.
The population has increased to 6000 people — half of them are power plant employees. The only visible change has been the residential blocks built for the employees. And that it catalysed creation of a market spawning from the police post to the railway station.There is a inter college, high school and an English medium primary school. But these are within the confines of the colony and do not benefit the local kids. Haidar Naqvi

What has changed since 2001
The power plant has brought thousands of workers to Paricha, and these employees have good facilities including residential blocks, and a market stretching from the police post to the railway station. Other residents, however, need to go to nearby Jhansi for proper medical facilities and schools.

Modak, Rajasthan
Still waiting for development

Imbibing the soul of a village and the body of a town, Modak craves more infrastructure to justify its emergence as a ‘town’ in 2001.
With most of the inhabitants engaged as labourers in the mining of Kota stone and some in a cement plant, there is no dearth of employment in Modak. But it lacks facilities like health centres, proper schools or a college. However, roads and drinking water supply have improved. It is also being seen that some people are shifting to Jhalawar district because there are no good schools in Modak. Aabshar H Quazi

What has changed since 2001
Modak has benefited from the laying of concrete roads and improvement in water supply from the nearby Rana Pratap Sagar Dam. But lack of education and health facilities persists; the government girls school is only upto class 10; many vacancies at the hospital in town force residents to seek facilities elsewhere.

First Published: Aug 04, 2012 23:00 IST