THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There is a high chance that one would miss the urban areas of Kerala if asked to make a guess on the fastest-growing cities in the world. But Malappuram made a conspicuous entry to the top as the fastest-growing city in the world in terms of population, according to a ranking released by reputed international weekly The Economist on Tuesday.
The ranking also found Kozhikode (rank 4) and Kollam (rank 10) among the top ten on the list. The cities that shared the honours with the three in Kerala are the cities in Vietnam, China, the UAE and Oman. Thrissur was also found to be growing fast with a rank of 13. Surat (ranked 27) and Tirupur (30) are the other two cities from India that featured in the top 30.
The ranking is based on the data collected by United Nations Population Division.
“The percentage rate for fastest-growing cities in our Pocket World in Figures Book is taken by calculating the difference between the populations for 2015 and 2020 (for cities with at least 750,000 people),” Mark Doyle, editor (The World This Week and Letters) of The Economist, said in an email response to TNIE.
The ranking surprised many as the state’s population rate is the lowest in the country. Malappuram could be better off with 13.4 per cent against the state average of 4.6 per cent.
But the experts in population and migration studies pointed out that that the heavy internal migration into the state is the real reason that catapulted Kerala cities to the top global ranking. The growth rate could merely reflect people moving from the native places to urban areas within the state, said Doyle. The UNPD has adopted a methodology to include migration as one of the criteria for the preparation of updated population estimates along with data on fertility and mortality.
Four cities (districts) in Kerala featuring among the fastest-growing in the world also highlight the stature of the state as migration-friendly place internationally. It assumes significance at a time when there is a global trend against migration. “It is a positive factor for Kerala. The state is able to attract a lot of migrants with employment opportunities and better living conditions,” S Irudaya Rajan, an expert on population studies at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS).
He pointed out the lack of local labour force, international migration and economic activities spurred by NRI remittances made Kerala attractive for migrants from other states. He, however, pointed out that there had been a decline in migration in southern districts when compared to northern parts. According to him, the growth rate of the state would not decline faster if the migrants keep coming. District Labour Officer of Malappuram Haridas said the construction boom and lack of local labourers fuelled the migration.
“We can find migrant labourers involved in all kinds of work. Even the brick cutting (from sand mines) which was considered a skilled job of local workers was taken over by migrants,” he said. According to him, Valanchery, Kottakkal, Perinthalmanna, Tirur, Edappal and Nilambur are the major pockets in Malappuram where there is a significant presence of migrant labourers from West Bengal, Odisha and Assam.