Spread Effects vs. Localised Growth: The Case of Census Towns in Murshidabad District
The phenomenal increase of census towns as a new trend in India’s urbanisation has questioned the model of urban development based on big and metropolitan cities. In 2011, the Census of India noted that West Bengal state experienced the highest growth of new Census towns. These newly developed Census towns have emerged not only in the districts away from the Kolkata metropolitan area but also in areas far away from the bigger towns of different districts. In the case of Murshidabad district, the Census towns have developed not near Berhampore, the biggest town and the district-headquarter, where agglomeration economies could play a role in their growth. Only eight out of 65 Census towns are located in the periphery of Berhampore, and the rest are located either near to other Statutory towns or are scattered in patterns. With the help of both primary and secondary data, this article tries to explore the nature of proximity of the Census towns with their nearest Statutory towns and also evaluates the role of distance from the existing towns regarding the availability of the basic services in the Census towns. The broader pattern of the growth of the Census towns and the influence of statutory towns on that growth pattern has been analysed with the help of Principal Component analysis and Quadrant analysis. Empirical research with a focus on different types of non-farm activities has been carried out to understand the process of growth of Census towns. The article finds that the economy of the Census towns is independent of the nearby Statutory towns, and their growth is dependent on the localised transformation of the rural economy from farm to non-farm especially to household industries such as bidi and silk.