IDFC Chairman Rajiv Lall shed light on some of the issues arising from India’s “Census Town” population, i.e. towns that the Census regards as urban, but are governed as rural by the Indian government, in this Business Standard article:
“Over the past decade the number of Census Towns has trebled to close to 5,000. The… share of the population that lives in urban conditions is materially larger than the population that is administered as urban… The panchayats in these areas would much rather remain outside the ambit of complex and onerous town planning regulations that the state governments impose on statutory towns… because annual plan expenditure designated for urban development is only 10 to 15 per cent of that allocated directly for rural development under various Government of India schemes, a Census Town that gets notified as a statutory town by the state government concerned risks losing access to valuable government funding… we end up systematically under-investing in urban infrastructure even as the challenge of waste management and sewage treatment in particular become increasingly daunting, and our towns and cities become progressively unliveable.”
Lall further explains how the design of our constituency exaggerates rural representation:
“According to the Constitution, the readjustment of constituencies was to take place on a decadal basis following each Census.
However, consequent to the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976, a moratorium was imposed on the number of seats allocated and on the territorial limits of the parliamentary as well as Assembly constituencies until the population Census of 2001. For 30 years elections were thus held on the basis of the 1972 delimitation… The Fourth Delimitation Commission was eventually constituted following the Delimitation Act of 2002 but it was not until 2008 that it finally completed its work of redrawing the constituencies based on the 2001 Census… Parliament, through the 84th Amendment to the Constitution, once again froze the territorial contours of constituencies, this time all the way to 2026. This effectively means that the next delimitation exercise has been deferred until the 2031 Census, by which time our urban population is projected to rise to 40 per cent.”
This series of articles on Census Towns by Mint explores challenges faced by such unrecognised urbanization.