There has been a steady increase in the country’s urban population over the decades. The population has increased from 26 million in 1901 to 377 million in 2011 and from 10 percent to 31 percent during the same period. India’s urbanization presents a contrasting picture – a large urban population with low urbanization and showing a growth rate of 2.76% per annum during 2001-2011.
The annual exponential growth rate of urban population and rate of urbanization shows that urban population of India had an urban population of about 79 million in 1961, which constituted about 18% of the total population. The average growth rate of the urban population was 2.32% during 1951-61 which accelerated up to 3.79% during 1971-81. This was the highest urban growth since independence. After 1981, the urban growth rate decelerated to 3.09% during 1981-91 and further declined to 2.75 during 1991- 2001.
However, the declining growth rate was reversed during 2001-2011. The number of urban centres increased from 3,126 in 1971 to 5,161 by 2001 and to about 8000 in 2011. One perceptible trend noticeable is the slowing down of urbanization – a large number of states as well as urban centres at all levels experienced this slow down.
According to the 2011 Census, urbanization has increased at a faster rate than expected. This has reversed the declining trend in the growth rate of the urban population observed during the 1980s and 1990s. Also, for the first time since independence, the absolute increase in the urban population was higher than that in the rural population. This has huge implications on infrastructure and provision of other civic amenities in urban areas.
As per 1941 Census, only three percent of the total population in Odisha lived in cities and towns as against 13.86% for India. Though the percentage of urban population is less in Odisha, the pace of urbanization in the State between 1941 and 2011was low as compared to the pattern for the country as a whole. In 2011 census, the proportion of population living in the urban areas of the state stood at16.68% as compared to 31.16% for the country. Population density of Odisha stood at 269 per sq. km in 2011. Odisha ranks 31st in the list of most urbanized states of the country, while in terms of actual urban population, the state ranks 11th in the list of states with the largest urban population.