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Now, rural-urban divide narrowing

Sanjeeb Mukherjee  |  New Delhi 

India’s rural hinterland is catching up with urban areas in the use of as the main source of lighting, in access to and tap water for drinking, bridging the old

The housing, households amenities and assets census for 2011 once again showed that rural India is fast converting into a more urbanised society. “It is part of the process of development that areas left behind eventually catch up with areas which have progressed,” P M Kulkarni, demographer and professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University told Business Standard.

The census was conducted among 330 million households, of which 24 per cent was in rural areas and 54 per cent in urban areas. The present data seems to further underline the jump in urbanisation trends revealed by the census data released in June 2011, he said. Between 2001 and 2011, the latest data shows, the gap in percentage of rural and urban households having tap water connections went down, from 44.4 per cent to 39.8 per cent. In 2001, 68.7 per cent of urban homes had the connection; only 24.3 per cent of rural ones did. In 2011, the respective percentages were 70.6 and 30.8. In other words, the rate of growth in households having tap water connection was faster in rural India than in its urban counterpart.

The difference between rural and urban India
  2001* 2011* Change**
Households with latrines 51.8 50.7 -1.1
Taps as major water source 44.4 39.8 -4.6
Banking facilities 19.4 13.3 -6.1
as main source of light 44.0 37.0 -7.0
Households having no major assets*** 21.5 15.9 -5.6
Households with open drainage 13.1 6.3 -6.8
Households with bathing facilities 47.6 22 -25.6
*In percentage of total households                           **Change is in percentage points
*** Major assets include radio, television, computer, laptop, telephone, mobiles, four-wheeler, two-wheeler and bicycle.
                                     SOURCE: Census 2011

Similarly, the rural-urban gap reduced by seven percentage points in the case of households using as their main source of power. The divide between the two Indias went down by 26 percentage points, from 48 per cent to 22 per cent in households having proper bathing facilities.

Rural India is also catching up in with the difference between households in the two areas coming down by 6.1 percentage points in the past decade. The data also showed a lesser number of rural houses had mud flooring in 2011 as compared to 2001, pointing to increased use of concrete in villages.

However, the gaps are wider in some spheres. In the number of houses with cooking gas connections, the gap between rural and urban India has widened in 10 years, by 11.3 percentage points, in a possible reflection of the rapid penetration of liquefied petroleum gas in urban areas.

Also, the data shows rural India has more mobile phones than latrines, drainage and bathing facilities. Around 51 per cent of rural households had mobile connectivity, while almost 70 per cent did not have proper latrines, 63 per cent did not have drainage facilities and 55 per cent didn’t have any bathing facilities.

First Published: Thu, March 15 2012. 00:46 IST