India & Maharashtra growing, even in sq km

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by Yusuf, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    MUMBAI: In geography texts, the familiar shape of India has remained constant since 1947. But with new land mass constantly being added through reclamation or subtracted on account of soil erosion, its topography has certainly been altered even if not charted.

    RTI activist Manoranjan Roy, who sought information on the land-area censuses from the Survey of India (SoI), found that between 1991 and 2001, India's total area changed from 32,87,263 square kilometres to 32,87,252 sq km. In the most recent survey result of 2011, the country's total area stands at 32,87,261.713 sq km.

    According to the last four national land-area censuses, the size of several states has changed. Maharashtra has been the largest gainer-aggressive reclaiming exercises by its government have contributed to an increase in the state's mass by 23 square kilometres, which is about four times the size of Juhu or all of Andheri West. On the other hand, with the washing away of the coastline, Andhra Pradesh has lost just as much land as Maharashtra gained.

    In all, 13 states and Union territories have recorded a change in size as a result of several factors, barring the splitting up of large states or drawing of new geo-political boundaries. Surveyor-General of India Swarna Subba Rao attributes the change in size to the fact that the areas of coastal states change due to coastal erosion and reclamation. "The reclamation of land is not so huge that it can run into tens of sq km," he says. "But erosion is serious, especially in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and the West Coast, though we don't have exact figures." The 2011 census has now corrected the tiny aberrations that were noticed during the previous surveys.

    Sometimes, however, a slight change in the area of a landlocked state like Delhi is due to neither erosion nor reclamation but a calculation earlier gone wrong. "The land mass reported by state governments is often different from that charted by agencies like SoI," says Subba Rao. "Sometimes this can happen on account of the method of calculation. Earlier, areas on a map were calculated by the graph method and by employing a planimeter, a mechanical device that had some inherent limitations. Now, all our maps have been digitised. We compute areas using software which is very accurate. SoI maps are accurate and authentic, and the area reported by SoI stands."

    Architect and planner P K Das, who has mapped the city of Mumbai, says there is a difference in the area of Mumbai as calculated by him and by the city's civic body. "Wetlands, edges of creeks, mangroves and river beds are often mapped vaguely," he says. "Illegal land filling has also contributed to the increase in area."

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