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Ahmedabad yet to become mega city

By Our Special Correspondent

AHMEDABAD, APRIL 6. The Ahmedabad Urban Agglomeration area has qualified to be declared a metro city registering a population of 45.19 lakhs in the 2001 census but has fallen behind Bangalore and Hyderabad cities in the race.

But if only the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation area is to be taken into account, the city's population at 35 lakhs falls below the qualifying mark of four millions to be recognised as a mega city.

According to Mr. Jayant Parimal, the Director of Census Operations in Gujarat, though Ahmedabad urban agglomeration, which included the areas covered by the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority, recorded a growth of 36.44 per cent over the 1991 census, its total population was behind the 56 lakhs recorded in Bangalore and the 53 lakhs in Hyderabad. The three cities were pegged close to about 30 to 35 lakh population in the last census.

As per the provisional census figures for the State released here, the population in Gujarat has increased from about 4.13 crores in the last census to over 5.05 crores, including the estimated population of Kutch district and Maliya, Morvi and Wankaner talukas in Rajkot district and Jodiya taluka in Jamnagar district where the census operations could not be carried out due to the earthquake which hit the State on January 26. Excluding the estimated population of the earthquake-affected areas, the State's population was recorded at 4.83 crores recording 22.48 per cent growth rate.

While in terms of population, the State accounting for 4.93 per cent of the total population of the country ranked 10th among all the States, in respect of literacy rate, it was a poor 15th and 22nd in respect of sex ration. While Ahmedabad district, including the Ahmedabad urban agglomeration area with over 58 lakh population, continued to be at the top of the table accounting for over 11 per cent of the total population of the State, the highest growth rate at 47 per cent was recorded in Surat district where the population jumped from 33.97 lakhs in the last census to 49.96 lakhs this time. The population of Surat urban agglomeration area increased from about 13 lakhs to over 28 lakhs. The Amreli district in the Saurashtra region recorded the lowest growth rate of 6.45 per cent.

Even though the literacy rate has increased from a mere 21.82 per cent in 1951 to 69.97 per cent this time, the literacy rate among women was still a mere 58.60 per cent, far below the literacy rate among men at 80.50 per cent. According to Mr. Jayant Parimal, there still were a number of villages, particularly in the tribal-dominated areas, where literacy among the women was found to be zero in the entire village.

In respect of sex ratio at 919 females per 1,000 males, the State has again fallen below the national average of 933 per 1,000 males after recording higher than the national average in the last three census. The tribal-dominated districts of Dangs and Dahod recorded the highest sex ratio with 986 and 985 females respectively per 1,000 males while Surat with only 835 females per 1,000 males was the lowest.

The density of population at 258 per one square kilometre area calculated on the basis of the estimated population of the earthquake-affected areas was placed at a comfortable situation. It was largely due to the Kutch district having vast geographical areas but only sparse population. It was, however, a shocking 718 per one sq. km. area in Ahmedabad district and in contrast only 106 in the Dangs district.

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