After recording a staggering 47 per cent growth in population between 1991 and 2001, Delhi's decadal pace of population growth has slowed down to 21 per cent, with two of its nine districts, New Delhi and Central, registering even negative growth, the Census of India 2011 has revealed. It also shows how construction activity, displacement and rehabilitation of slums, and commercialisation of residential areas has led to significant demographic changes in Delhi.

The total population of Delhi stood at 1.68 crore in 2011 compared to 1.38 crore in 2001. The population growth has been highest at 30.62 per cent in South-West Delhi, followed by 27.63 per cent in North-West, 26.73 per cent in North-East, 20.59 per cent in South, 18.91 per cent in West, 16.68 per cent in East and 13.04 per cent in North Delhi.

New Delhi district posted a negative 25.35 per cent growth as people were either displaced or shifted out in large numbers. So was the case with Central District, which comprises a large part of the Walled City area, and where the population has actually declined by 10.48 per cent in the past decade.

On the events influencing the demographic changes, the Census states that a major reason for the fall in the decadal growth rate was the wide-ranging removal of slum clusters. Some major clusters were removed in the mid-2000s from the Yamuna Pushta. These clusters were spread along the river bed in the New Delhi, Central, North and East districts. Besides, some slums were also removed from Gautam Nagar and Kalka Mandir area in South District while others were removed from the New Delhi Municipal Council area.

“Many more have been removed in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games in the last two years. Of the population living in these clusters, about 32,000 families have been shifted to rehabilitation colonies in North-West and South districts as per the data from the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board but the rest were not eligible for rehabilitation and were thus displaced,” the Census report says.

Another visible trend as per the report has been the commercialisation of previously residential areas.

“The tendency is to convert the ground floor for commercial/office use and, if at all, only keep the upper floors residential, thus to a great extent using up the extra housing capacity created by the increased floor-area ratio norms of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi,” it observes.

With this trend most visible in Old Delhi areas of Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazar as also Central Delhi areas of Paharganj and Karol Bagh, the report notes that there has been a marked reluctance among the descendants of old time residents of these areas to continue staying there.

“People prefer to move out to more modernised housing in other parts of Delhi or the National Capital region. Thus the removal of the Yamuna Pushta and simultaneous large-scale commercialisation has led to a 10.5 per cent fall in population in Central Delhi,” it points out.

On the other hand, the report says the coming up of numerous unauthorised colonies in West District has led to a growth in population there. A similar situation exists in South District as well. As for the North District, it says while these factors hold true, the coming in of Delhi Metro and many flyovers has led to large-scale demolition and consequent loss of population in its Kashmere Gate area.

The overall population density of Delhi has also increased from 9,340 persons per square km to 11,297 persons in 2011.

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