Pune City has been witnessing phenomenal growth in its population, according to the Census report. From 16.91 lakh in 1991, it saw nearly 50 per cent jump and was 25.38 lakh in 2001. The subsequent decade saw close to one-fourth jump in the population figures: it was 31.15 lakh in 2011. Demography experts attribute this growth mainly to a handful of factors, besides natural growth — advanced economic activities and a high rate of migration for work, rise in student population and better transportation facilities in the city. Traditionally known as a Pensioner’s Paradise, the city is no longer so: it is increasingly emerging as the city for the young and the restless.
One look at the various population reports show that Pune is among the cities with largest youth population. The rapid urbanisation has led to influx of youths in the city and 73 per cent of its total population is below 50 years of age. As per the demographic survey conducted by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) while preparing development plan for city, it was revealed that 33 per cent of the population was below 30 years while 40 per cent was between 30 years to 50 years.
“In the last 25 years, especially, there have been tremendous changes in the demography of the city. One of the most important things that we see today is a younger Pune. There has been a lot of migration, especially of skilled labourers, mainly due to the rise in the IT industry and the large-scale companies. Migration of younger professionals means they were of child-bearing age and there has been a natural growth. Given the kind of facilities that we have in terms of education, many are buying houses and settling here which is not only leading to a change in the age-group of population by making it younger, but a more diverse, cosmopolitan population as well,” said Dr Anjali Radkar, associate professor and population and health researcher at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Research.
Migration is pegged by researchers as the most important driving force behind this change, both in growth as well as change in the composition of the population. An average of 8 per cent population migrates to the city every five years. Researcher Sanjeevani Mulay, who had done a study for the PMC on the population of Pune city and projected its change, predicted a 40 per cent increase in the population after the 2001 Census report, attributing it to the phenomena of natural growth, migration and the expansion of city limits. In her report, Mulay observed that while until 1991, the city’s population growth was slow, 2001 saw an increase of 60 per cent owing to the inclusion of fringe villages and migration.
As per the study, the in-migrated population of Pune urban agglomeration has increased from 3.1 lakh in 1991 to 7.4 lakh migrants in 2001 – 13 per cent and 20 per cent of the total population – of which the composition of state migrants is 73 per cent and 65 per cent, respectively.
Her study, done several years ago, takes into account the inclusion of 34 fringe villages. While the reality may be much different today as fewer fringe villages have now got accommodated in the city limits, she says that her projection on migration is something she still stands by. Mulay, who had observed that in-migration is much more than out-migration, said, “I had predicted a rate of 12 per cent migration and it will continue even in 2017. However, in the next couple of years, I see the migration lessening a bit. That’s because there is always a saturation limit.”
Mulay said that in last 20 years, the major reason for migration in the city was its capacity to offer jobs because of the development in the IT sector and large- scale industries located in and around Pune. This has been supported by PMC’s development plan for 2041 available on its website which says that over the years, the large-scale industries in Pune region have shown an increasing trend in the number of units (except during 2009 and 2010) and the number of employment. Though there has been a decline in the number of units during the year 2009 (665 units) and 2010 (766 units), a positive growth is evident again in 2011 (1,490 units). The report also goes on to record the emergence of the Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park in the last two decades and its growth which led to the spurt in job opportunities for skilled labour.
The expansion of opportunities in terms of higher and professional education is another aspect which, experts argue, has led to the rise in the population under the age of 30. Until 20 years ago, Pune had only one state university and a handful of few private universities. Since then, the emergence of private universities, deemed institutions, engineering and MBA colleges meant newer opportunities for students. “The youth looks for long-term settlement in respect to future employment. Moreover, Pune is known to be a safer city to live in,” observed Madhu Satam, head of economics department, at Modern College.
Observing in her report that the migration to Pune was mostly of the skilled population, Mulay said that while two-third of the migration to the city remains from other parts of Maharashtra, the rest come from other states with Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh leading the pack. According to a PMC report, the mother tongue of 85 per cent household is Marathi while communication is in Hindi in 7.67 per cent. People speaking languages like Bengali, Kannada and Rajasthani form a significant majority of the remaining household. An increasing number of people migrating from other states has led to an increasing medley of several linguistic and religious communities in the city. “Marathi remains the language which is spoken the most as even the migration pattern shows that in-migration is mostly from within the state. However, given the migration from other states, they have brought their language, lifestyles and culture and assimilated into the city, making it more cosmopolitan than what it was two decades ago,” said Mulay.
Most population studies of the city indicate that the growth in the city has been along the fringe areas, owing to the simple fact that the city area is largely overcrowded. The PMC’s revised DP for 2041 accounts ease of accessibility to workplace and availability of basic services for the increase in housing projects along those areas. It records that the population growth is witnessed in the fringe areas of the city, especially in the southwest direction due to the affordability of land at cheaper prices. The driving force for growth is mainly the development of IT industry. The peripheral growth has resulted into the increased residential areas and areas under transportation network and facilities. The decadal growth rate in the core of the city is negative due to congestion and increased land value. Over the decade, the population of Warje Karve road has increased to almost double, which is mainly due to the increase in residential projects; followed by wards to the eastern side i.e. Hadapsar, BS Dhole Patil Road and Yerwada, mainly due to the growth of IT industry in this direction.