Neighbouring cities grow at Mumbai’s expense

THE Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), comprising Mumbai, the satellite city of Navi Mumbai, neighbouring Thane, and over a dozen municipal corporations which are part of the extended suburbs, today accounts for nearly a fourth of Maharashtra’s population. The region is also the second-largest urban conglomeration in the world after Tokyo in terms of population.

Published: Mon 4 Apr 2011, 12:29 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:40 PM

The preliminary figures of Census 2011 indicate that Maharashtra – with a population of 112.3 million – is the second most populous state in the country. But Thane tops the list of most populated districts in India; the sprawling district adjacent to Mumbai saw its population shoot up by 35.26 per cent (as against the national average of 17.6 per cent) between 2001 and 2011.

Thane now has 11.5 million people and has overtaken North 24 Paraganas in West Bengal (10.8 million) as the most populous district. Two factors have contributed to the sharp spurt in the population of Mumbai’s neighbouring cities. One is the planned development of new urban hubs — especially in Navi Mumbai — and the other is the unaffordable real estate rates in the island city and the suburbs.

According to the Census figures, the population of Mumbai district (which is primarily the island city up to Mahim-Sion) has dipped by 5.75 per cent over the 10-year period: from 3.34 million to 3.15 million. Not surprising, considering that the property rates in luxury buildings in posh areas such as Cuffe Parade, Malabar Hill, Cumbala Hill and Warden Road are around Rs100,000 a sq ft.

Some of the fastest-growing hubs in the MMR includes places like Kharghar (where the population went up from a mere 6,000 in 2001 to 73,000 10 years later), Vasai-Virar (which saw a 221 per cent jump in population during the period) and New Panvel (113 per cent). Navi Mumbai, the satellite city across the harbour – and comprising nodes from Airoli to Vashi to Panvel – saw a 48 per cent growth in population.

The MMR comprises three districts – Mumbai, Mumbai suburban and Thane, though some parts even come under Raigad district. It also includes 19 municipal corporations, most of them among the richest in the country.

Though the population of Thane district has grown by 35.26 per cent between 2001 and 2011, it is actually a sharp fall if compared to the previous decadal growth of 54.92 per cent. Suburban Mumbai saw a mere 8.01 per cent growth in the decade, as against 27.99 per cent between 1991 and 2001.

India’s largest urban conglomeration also has maximum density of people living in a given area. In Mumbai’s suburbs, for instance, nearly 21,000 people are packed in one sq km on average, whereas in the island city, it is a little over 20,000. Thane though is far less congested – just 1,150 people in one sq km. While the national density is 382 per sq km, Maharashtra fares much better at 365.

But the most worrying aspect in the Census figures – both for India and Mumbai – is the steep decline in the child sex ratio (children between 0 and six).

While the overall sex ratio (male-female) has improved in Mumbai, suburban Mumbai and Thane (as compared to the 1991-2001 figures), the child sex ratio has seen a steep fall.

In the island city it has come down to 874 in 2011, from 922 in 2001 (meaning there are 874 girls for every 1,000 boys in the age group of 0 to six), in suburban Mumbai it is down to 923 from 910 and in Thane it has fallen to 918 from 931.

Of course, demographers say this happens in urban areas where there is large-scale migration of men, who leave behind their families in the villages.

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