Urbanization of a state is expressed by the percentage of people living in an urban area. Apart from all urban designated areas Census of India has formulated three fold criteria to declare an area as 'urban'. They are as per the following
1. Population concentration criteria (not less than a population of 5000)
2. Density criteria (not less than 400 persons per sqkm)
3. Productivity criteria (more than 75% of the male working population engaged non-agricultural activities).

Accordingly the percentage of urban population and percentage of urban land from 1961-2001 is depicted as Chart

Urbanisation Trend of Kerala







Urban Land %






Urban Population%







Urbanisation Trend of Kerala, urban land & urban population

It is seen that during the period 1961-1981 the urban land and urban population are going parallel. During 1981-1991, urban land has increased disproportionate to the urban population which indicates the existence of urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is unplanned urban spread with non-optimal density of population to support urban infrastructure. The after effect of urban sprawl is experienced in the next decade1991-2001, with a substantial decrease of urban population. Many of the areas declared as Census Towns (CTs) in 1991 are declassified as rural areas and Urban Out Growths (OGs).As per the Census of India definition, OGs are urban spreads which do not fulfill the three fold urban criteria. to be treated as independent CTs, but at the same has all the other urban characteristics and infrastructural facilities.

As per the 2001 census, 17 numbers of Kerala Urban Agglomerations (UA) has 33 numbers of urban outgrowths (OG) which are lying at the periphery. Urban OGs are not'true urban' as per the three fold criteria of census of India. Kerala is the state having highest number of UAs even though it lacks a million plus city. As per the 2001 census, 17 numbers of UAs in the state spread in an area of 57 % of the urban Kerala, carrying 72 %of the urban population. Comparing the Kerala UA with Delhi UA, Kerala UA carries only 46% of the population of Delhi UA as per the 2001 census while its area is 2.2 times area of Delhi UA. In effect Delhi UA carries a residential density of 3.2 times Kerala UA residential density. 20 % of UA area comprises OGs and 14% of the UA population is from OGs.

Area and Population OG Kerala
If microscopically examined the Urban OGs of Kerala, it is seen that all the criteria of Census of India other than the productivity criteria are satisfied. At the same time these areas are having all the urban infrastructure . This phenomenon is prevalent throughout the state of Kerala. even though no such classification has been made by the Census of India in areas other than UA. Kerala's rural resident has access to road, electricity, cooking gas, telephone, and internet along with educational and health facilities. Only thing they lack is higher order shopping facilities. This may be the reason behind high revenue expenditure with less revenue receipts prevalent in Kerala.

Government in the name of welfare policies continues investing in infrastructure for unviable population concentration. When serviced land with ample spare capacity is idling in the city, people go further from the rural area invading agricultural and forest land and pester government for infrastructure. Apart from unviable infrastructure cost, the productivity of the agricultural and forest land is also depleted due to non-conforming and fragmented land utilisation pattern. The settlement pattern is further scattered leading to more fossil fuel consumption to reach the human development prone centers which is spend mostly by government and some times by the individuals. This again contributes negatively towards the economy of the state.