A Slice Of Life In Peri Urban India

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There is a distinct note of pride in Mahesh Kumar's words as he takes visitors around a new meat processing plant at Dasna, in Ghaziabad district. The de facto manager of Eagle Continental Foods has good reason to be smug. Imported machinery for the slaughter house, which has a capacity of 400 buffaloes and 200 sheep and goats; an effluent treatment plant that can treat up to 200 kilolitres per hour; a unit that generates employment for at least 450 people; an export order from Algeria, and a government grant of Rs 50 lakh to set up the plant—all have ensured that the unit is off to a good start.

The plant is just one of the catalysts for change in Dasna, a medium-sized, peri-urban town of 24,428 residents (Census 2001). The National Highway-24 that divides the town has also decided the tone of development. While on one side exists the old town, the opposite side fringes on the modern, with its meat processing factory and plywood units.

Census 2011 will update the population figures for Dasna only by February next year, but the character of the place has already altered to accommodate the changing aspirations of its residents and the new influences that settlers from across the country bring with them. Those looking at trade and industry will also have to redraft plans and adopt a fresh approach for this town, a middle ground between urban centres and rural markets.

Spreading out

Congested urban areas with high population density are forcing industry to spiral outward like ink on a blotting paper. What was strictly out of limit about 20 years ago is now very much part of a big city. A perfect example of how a metro grows to swallow suburban locales is the National Capital Region around Delhi.

As a result, the encroachment of rural areas is irrevocably changing the character of these places. As city dwellers move to these locations, they take with them their lifestyle and aspirations. Improvement in ways and means of travel has also had an effect on the two-way traffic between urban centres and non-urban locations. So, Dasna, a short 40 km from Ghaziabad city, has already begun to absorb urban influences. Local residents travel to malls and cinema halls in Ghaziabad on weekends, and Delhi is within 100 km reach. At the Dasna nagar panchayat, Dinesh Kumar Kaushik has another descriptor to fit the town. “It's rurban,” he says. “It is a rural strip, but has urban facilities such as water, power and sewage,” he explains. Urban symptoms like migration are also seeping in the small town. The new part is attracting skilled labour for the new industry. The Eagle foods plant, for instance, uses labour from Kerala and Bihar.

A new way of life

With the unique vantage of proximity to both rural and urban centres, peri-urban towns afford a glimpse at the way urbanisation is seeping into non-urban settings. They crystallise, in a way, a difficult thing to measure—the pace and direction of change. Predominantly trading towns such as Hodal in Haryana's Faridabad district, for instance, continue to play the part of both transmitter of goods and values and a buffer between rural and urban centres. Commission agents, shopkeepers and rice mill owners form the creamier layer of this society. The lower strata includes workers and migrant labour.

In Hodal, a large town of around 98,000, agri-input stores such as those selling tractors, seeds and fertilisers jostle for space with cement and other construction material. Here, new businesses such as an Internet café, institutes of learning, mobile repair and computers, have also sprung up.

Subhash Chandra of Hodal, who owns a tractor franchise for Massey Fergusson, uses a food metaphor to capture the flux in Hodal society in the past few years. “We used to eat oatmeal before, and now we feast on rice pudding,” he says.

Business is good for Chandra too. His agency Jai Shiv Tractors sells an average of 10-12 tractors a month to customers from some 38 adjoinin

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A Slice Of Life In Peri Urban India

  1. 1. 12 FE Special: Small Town India w w w. f i n a n c i a l e x p re s s . c o m Thursday, May 13, 2010, New Delhi PHOTOS: OINAM ANAND 1 2 3 A SLICE OF LIFE IN PERI-URBAN INDIA FE travels to four small towns in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to gauge how the middle ground between the urban and rural is changing ChanpreetKhurana puter store and an Internet café. Sorat, T 4 5 whohasstudiedcomputerapplications HERE IS a distinct note of in Bhopal, has no regrets about coming pride in Mahesh Kumar's back to a quieter life in Hodal. “We get words as he takes visitors 10-15 people at the café per day, and the aroundanewmeatprocess- computer store sells eight to ten assem- ing plant at Dasna, in bledmachinesamonth,”hesays.There Ghaziabad district. The de facto man- is a new crop of computer institutes, ager of Eagle Continental Foods has English language training schools and good reason to be smug. Imported ma- mobile repairing classes in the town chinery for the slaughter house, which too. Tinu Computer Centre, for exam- has a capacity of 400 buffaloes and 200 ple,teachesMicrosoftOfficeandcheck- sheep and goats; an effluent treatment inge-mail. plant that can treat up to 200 kilolitres per hour; a unit that generates employ- High aspirations mentforatleast450people;anexportor- There is a quieter and, perhaps, more der from Algeria, and a government impressive change underway at very grant of Rs 50 lakh to set up the plant— small peri-urban locations—that of all have ensured that the unit is off to a lation density are forcing industry to 1.Thelocallink:A kirana shopinHassanpur,Haryana,sellslocalproduce agency Jai Shiv Tractors sells an aver- high aspirations. A little off Hopur goodstart. spiral outward like ink on a blotting pa- 2.&3.Co-existence: HodalinHaryanaboastsofcomputerstoresandcybercafes,likethis age of 10-12 tractors a month to cus- road in Ghaziabad, in a town called Ni- The plant is just one of the catalysts per.Whatwasstrictlyoutof limitabout oneownedbyBolySorat,buttheoldwayoflifeexiststoo tomersfromsome38adjoiningvillages. wari, the local panchayat has dug into for change in Dasna, a medium-sized, 20 years ago is now very much part of a 4.Skyisthelimit:AsolarpanelpowersstreetlightsinNiwari,UttarPradesh Choices in consumer goods, too, its own pockets to set up solar street- peri-urban town of 24,428 residents big city A perfect example of how a . 5.Entrepreneurship:AmeatprocessingunitinDasna,UP,bringsprosperitytothearea have become more varied, says Chan- lights. “It was a community decision (Census 2001). The National Highway- metro grows to swallow suburban lo- dra. “We had a Kelvinator refrigerator and we invited tenders for setting up so- 24thatdividesthetownhasalsodecided cales is the National Capital Region for 20 years, but now we are spoilt for lar lamps,” says Sunil Tyagi, a local the tone of development. While on one aroundDelhi. sewage,”heexplains.Urbansymptoms tres. Commission agents, shopkeepers choice. There's Whirlpool, LG, Sam- politician. Nearby Patla town, too, is side exists the old town, the opposite Asaresult,theencroachmentof rur- like migration are also seeping in the and rice mill owners form the creamier sung and more available in the local transformingasdevelopmentinGhazi- side fringes on the modern, with its al areas is irrevocably changing the small town. The new part is attracting layerof thissociety .Thelowerstratain- market,” he says, adding that some peo- abad city spills over to surrounding ar- meat processing factory and plywood character of these places. As city skilled labour for the new industry The . cludesworkersandmigrantlabour. pleevenhavetworefrigeratorsathome. eas. Overall loans have gone up 40% in units. dwellers move to these locations, they Eagle foods plant, for instance, uses In Hodal, a large town of around Chandra has one LG 185-litre refrigera- thelastyearatthelocalPunjabandSind Census 2011 will update the popula- take with them their lifestyle and aspi- labourfromKeralaandBihar. 98,000, agri-input stores such as those tor. Most stores, however, stock small Bank branch, which boasts of upwards tion figures forDasnaonly by February rations. Improvement in ways and selling tractors, seeds and fertilisers sizeandlow-rangeproducts. of 10,000savingaccounts.Zonalmanag- next year, but the character of the place meansof travelhasalsohadaneffecton A new way of life jostle for space with cement and other The wave of change is engulfing the er SP Singh says seven education loans hasalreadyalteredtoaccommodatethe the two-way traffic between urban cen- With the unique vantage of proximity construction material. Here, new busi- new generation also. Brijpal Rati Ram, worth Rs 15 lakh have been sanctioned changing aspirations of its residents tres and non-urban locations. So, Das- to both rural and urban centres, peri- nesses such as an Internet café, insti- a trader in Hodal, says while his mobile over the past two years, of which Rs 9 and the new influences that settlers na, a short 40 km from Ghaziabad city, urbantownsaffordaglimpseattheway tutes of learning, mobile repair and is used predominently for business, his lakh has already been disbursed. “The from across the country bring with has already begun to absorb urban in- urbanisationisseepingintonon-urban computers,havealso sprungup. son burns up an Rs-400 recharge coming up of professional institutes in them.Thoselookingattradeandindus- fluences.Localresidentstraveltomalls settings.Theycrystallise,inaway,adif- Subhash Chandra of Hodal, who coupon in a month just chatting with Ghaziabad has stoked the desire for try will also have to redraft plans and and cinema halls in Ghaziabad on ficult thing to measure—the pace and owns a tractor franchise for Massey friends. What’s more, none of his four higher education among the locals,” he adopt a fresh approach for this town, a weekends, and Delhi is within 100 km direction of change. Predominantly Fergusson,usesafoodmetaphortocap- sons wish to join his commission trad- says. Priorities have changed too. Top- middle ground between reach. At the Dasna nagar panchayat, trading towns such as Hodal in ture the flux in Hodal society in the past ing business. Two of them have already most on the wishlist for traders in Has- urbancentresandruralmarkets. DineshKumarKaushikhasanotherde- Haryana's Faridabad district, for in- few years. “We used to eat oatmeal be- moved to cities for higher education sanpur town of Haryana is a bridge scriptor to fit the town. “It's rurban,” he stance, continue to play the part of both fore,andnowwefeastonricepudding,” andemployment. over the Yamuna. “A bridge will help Spreading out says.“Itisaruralstrip,buthasurbanfa- transmitter of goods and values and a hesays. A few feet away, quite like Nehru boost trade,” says local trader Kishore Congested urban areas with high popu- cilities such as water, power and buffer between rural and urban cen- BusinessisgoodforChandratoo.His Place in Delhi, Boly Sorat runs a com- Kumar. FE -INDICUS ANALYTICS SPECIAL A micro look Major state-wise peri-urban market per capita income and their composition State Per capita No. of very No. of No. of medium No. of large income (Rs pa) small towns small towns sized towns towns Haryana 83,462 11 20 30 25 Above all-India median Gujarat 77,279 37 37 62 79 Rs 58,984 Maharashtra 63,274 56 72 90 120 Punjab 61,048 30 37 40 36 West Bengal 59,356 169 53 46 53 Andhra Pradesh 58,160 24 22 30 87 Below all-India median The top 10 Tamil Nadu 56,796 184 261 207 154 Rs 58,984 Orissa 54,420 29 33 32 35 Top 10 peri-urban millionaire districts, 2009-10 Karnataka 49,180 40 27 83 78 No of households State District earning > Rs 10 lakh Rajasthan 47,137 24 37 76 66 Gujarat Ahmedabad 20,000 Madhya Pradesh 34,513 92 125 86 66 Gujarat Valsad 16,600 Uttar Pradesh 33,099 130 201 188 131 Tamil Nadu Coimbatore 14,700 Bihar 29,519 6 11 42 52 Tamil Nadu Kancheepuram 13,700 Tamil Nadu Vellore 13,600 Market skyline Goa North Goa 12,500 Major state-wise peri-urban market size (in Rs crore) Kerala Ernakulam 11,900 Total household Total household Maharashtra Pune 11,800 State expenditure State expenditure Maharashtra Ahmednagar 11,400 Tamil Nadu 87,200 Rajasthan 23,700 Maharashtra Thane 11,200 Maharashtra 51,700 Madhya Pradesh 23,500 Uttar Pradesh 42,800 Punjab 19,500 Gujarat 40,600 Haryana 15,300 Andhra Pradesh 29,000 Source: The Market Skyline of India Urban, West Bengal 28,500 Orissa 14,500 Peri-urban & Rural Markets 2009-10; Indicus Analytics (www.indicus.net) Karnataka 26,700 Bihar 9,870

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