Urbanization in India:

Urban Regional Identity and Traits: Delhi and its
Peripheral Region
Debnath Mookherjee*
Manie (H.S.) Geyer**
Eugene Hoerauf*
IGU Urban Geography Commission
Canterbury UK
Christ Church University
August 14-20, 2011
*Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
98225, USA ** Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch
7602, South Africa
Conceptual Background
• Core/Periphery – The Semantics of Peripheral
• Dimensions –Spatial / Aspatial
• The Centricity Continuum – From Monocentric to
• Agreements & Ambiguities – Scale, Definition,
Disciplinary Approaches, Measurements
References: Potter (2001), Copus (2001), Geyer (2006)
Agreements & Ambiguities
• Broad Consensus (Developed Countries)
-- The ‘Demise’ of Monocentricity
-- Decentralization of Economic Activities
-- Implications of Changes in the ‘Demographic
-- Mono/Polycentricity – A Continuum, Not an
‘Either /Or’
-- Morphological & Functional Dimensions
Agreements & Ambiguities (Cont.)
• Ambiguities –‘No Real Consensus,’ e.g.,
-- Definitions of Polycentricity, ‘What it
Really Means’
-- Scales
-- Polycentric Forms (PUR, City Regions)
-- Measurement Criteria, Variables
References: Davoudi (2003), Kloosterman and Musterd
(2001), Champion (2001), Meijers and Burger (2010)
Polycentric Urban Regions (PURs)
• Distinctive Spatial Structure: PUR
-- Clustering of Centers
-- Size, Spacing, and Size Distribution
-- Center-Specialization
-- Multi-Centered Metro Areas
-- Uniform Homogeneous Regions
Polycentric Urban Regions (PURs)
• Study Approaches/ Orientations
--Functional/ Relational and Morphological
-- Scalar Variations – Meso, Macro, Mega
Inter and Intra-Regional Perspectives
• Dimensions/ Characteristics
-- Physical Forms, Political Entity, Functional
Relationships, Historical/ Cultural Identity
References: Par (2004), Green (2007), Veneri & Burgalassi
(2010), Davoudi (2002)
Polycentric Urban Regions (PURs)
-- Urban System – Conforms Broadly to the
Central Place Model
-- Particular Form of Nodal Region
-- Bi-Nodal City-Region
• General Agreement: Studies are More or
Less Context Specific.
Reference: Par (2004), Turok & Bailey (2004), Dick &
Rimmer (1998), Davoudi (2002)
Important Reminders for Us
• Most Research, Conceptualizations, and
Debates are in the Context of Developed
• Research is Lagging far behind in Context of the
Developing World
• Context-Specific Empirical Research is Needed
for Academic & Policy Purposes
An Empirical Observation: The Case of
NCR in India
• The Delhi core (NCT) grew dramatically
during the past five decades .
Decadal Growth Rates of Top Metropolitan
Agglomerations & the Delhi Core, 1951-2001
A Regional Planning Approach
• Concerns over Delhi’s Urban Growth and Spatial
Impact Prompted Action
• National Commission on Urbanization (NCOU),
• National Capital Region Planning Board
(NCRPB), 1985
The Constituent Areas of the NCR
• Following an act of Parliament in 1985, a
National Capital Region Planning Board
(NCRPB) was set up
• The NCR was delineated across parts of three
adjacent states, Rajasthan, UP, and Haryana
• The states voluntarily agreed to surrender their
constitutional rights in favor of the Board for
planning development of NCR… (NCRPB,
2000, p.xix)
The NCR Policy Zones
• Three concentric policy zones were formed
with the intent of development of urban
centers outside of the NCT-Delhi in a
polycentric fashion.
-- NCT-Delhi (1483 sq. km)
-- Delhi Metropolitan Area (DMA) excluding the NCTDelhi (1697 sq. km)
-- The rest of the NCR (27,063 sq km).
-- Also, a ‘Highway Corridor Zone’, and a ‘Central
National Capital Region’ (CNCR) based on the
former Delhi Metropolitan Area (DMA), were
National Capital Region: Policy Zones
Planning Objectives
• Halting the Concentration in Delhi
• Redistribution of Population and Activities within
the NCR
• Avoidance of “Amorphous Blobs on the
• Postulate: Future Settlements would Emerge in
PUR forms
References: NCOU Report (1988), NCRPB Report (1985)
Research Focus
• Primary Research Focus in Literature:
Resources, Management, Directions of
Growth, Carrying Capacity, Infra-Structural
• Focus of Our Study: To Observe the
Settlement Patterns in the Peripheral Region
of the NCR from the Perspective of some
Morphological Elements of Polycentric
Development as a Baseline Prior to the 2011
Census Reports.
References: Ahmed & Choi (2011), Bhandari et al (2007),
Jain et al (2011), Banerjee (1996), Mookherjee & Geyer
Research Focus (Contd.)
• Study Design:
-- The Spatial Entity: The National Capital
Region (Core and Periphery)
-- The Data Set: Census data—Demographic
(Population), Economic (Workers), Spatial
(Distance from the Core)
-- Urban Settlements: Centers of 20,000 and
Over Population Size
-- Descriptive Statistics: Core-Periphery
Differentials of Population and Occupational
Growth Rates, Size and Distance Patterns
Growth Rates Main Workers: Delhi Core and
Peripheral Centers, 1991-2001
Growth Rates Other Workers: Delhi Core
and Peripheral Centers, 1991-2001
Other Workers
Other Workers
Growth Rates Household Workers: Delhi
Core and Peripheral Centers, 1991-2001
Household Workers
Household Workers
• Cities and Towns were concentrated within the
40 km contour line from the NCT-Delhi core
• About one-third of Urban Centers (n=51) with
growth rates exceeding Delhi core growth
were located within the 20 km contour line.
• Six of these Centers appear to form a Node
around Ghaziabad – a large city of nearly
one million population
Distribution of the centers also varied per the
state’s developmental status.
Findings (contd.)
• Majority of the cities and towns in UP grew at a
very moderate pace; some showed negative
• A cluster of six centers with Ghaziabad as the
node in the east appear to be emerging.
• An elongated corridor-like zone of four centers
extending northward from Sonipat is
• These zones may evolve into some forms of
polycentric urban regions.
Concluding Remarks
• We have to remember that this has been a glimpse
backward at the settlement status a decade ago.
Only the new census data can offer us current
• Our observations clearly point to a trend in spatial
development in the NCR at the peripheral region of
• The trend: a predominantly higher growth rates of
population and workers at the immediate periphery
of Delhi that far surpassed the growth rates of the
• However, such a trend, while encouraging, is not
Concluding Remarks (Contd.)
• We further detected a possible shaping of future spatial
forms in the distribution of urban centers—a ‘node’
in the east and a ‘corridor’ in the north-west.
• These are among the rapidly growing centers that may
be the ‘incubators’ of regional growth in the future
• Above patterns may result partly from NCR policies
• It can also be argued that in view of the wide diversity
within the NCR and the influence of the Delhi core,
such a trend could be inevitable and may have
emerged independently.
• Answers to such queries must await new data.
We would like to thank ~
• Stephan Freelan, GIS Specialist, WWU, for drawing
some of the illustrations; and,
• Jonah White, Graduate Student at WWU, for initial
compilation of some Census data.

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