New Delhi: The latest census data for Delhi reveals that the city’s population is stabilizing, but the way the national capital has managed to do this may throw open a new debate.
Delhi registered its lowest population growth rate since 1931, at 20.95% in the past decade, according to the 2011 census data for the state, which was released on Monday. While in the previous 2001 census, Delhi’s population grew 47.02%, in the 1931 census it stood at 30.25%.
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The census report said that a decadal growth rate of 21% still shows that Delhi continues to be a metropolitan growth magnet. “It may also be kept in mind that the major cities of the National Capital Region (NCR) area, namely Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Noida have in recent years absorbed a lot of the growth impulses emanating from Delhi.”
However, the census report identified wide-ranging removal of slum clusters from various parts of the city since 2001 as a major reason for the fall in the population growth rate. Preliminary figures suggest that the total slum population of Delhi has come down since 2001, despite the census broadening the definition of slums for the 2011 census, though exact figures will only be available after further analysis. Major clusters removed during the mid-2000s include Yamuna Pushta, Gautam Nagar and Kalka Mandir and several clusters within the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) area. Many more have been removed in the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the last two years. Of the population living in these clusters, about 32,000 families have been shifted to rehabilitation colonies in the north-west and south districts as per data from the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), but the rest were not eligible for rehabilitation and were thus displaced.
“It is not known where they (the rest) may have gone,” said Varsha Joshi, director, census operations, Delhi. “Some may have settled in new clusters at different locations, and the rest may have moved to other cities.”
However, Sanjay Kumar, director, operations at Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan, said that it is unlikely that the slum-dwellers have left the city. “They have moved to other parts of the city and are living under no permanent structures. That is why they have not been properly counted.” Kumar claimed the homeless in Delhi have not been counted properly under the census, something that the Delhi census chief Joshi ruled out.
The census report pointed out that another visible trend is the commercialization of previously residential areas. “People prefer to move out to more modernized housing in other parts of Delhi or NCR. Thus, the removal of the Yamuna Pushta and simultaneous large-scale commercialization has led to a 10.5% fall in population in central district,” the Delhi census report said.
The maximum population growth (31%) has taken place in the south-west district. The new sub-city of Dwarka, which has come up in the last 10 years, is a major factor leading to high growth.
The overall sex ratio in Delhi has increased substantially from 821 in 2001 to 866 in 2011. “It may indicate that a larger proportion of migrants coming into Delhi for work reasons are women compared to the situation 10 years back,” the census report said. “This could be also because men who are now coming to work in Delhi are coming with their families.”
Continuing with the national trend, the child (0-6) sex ratio has dipped marginally from 868 in 2001 to 866 in 2011 in Delhi. While the situation has not worsened significantly, the census report maintained that more efforts are needed to bring the child sex ratio in Delhi at par with the national average of 914.
On the literacy front, the gap between male and female literacy in Delhi narrowed further, keeping pace with the national trend.