Urban growth and urbanization patterns in Jharkhand do not seem to attract any significant academic attention. The ‘newly’ born state that came into existence on 15th November 2000 as the 28th state of Indian Union has however remained in turbidity of political economy of growth since its formation. For a long time, Jharkhand remained as a part of Bihar, but after Indian independence, the demand for a separate state of tribals started gaining momentum (Jharkhand Govt.). Not to any surprise, the swaths of scholarship have ventured to analyze the instability of political governance in Jharkhand. Amidst these developments, the urban has turned up as the strategic site both for aggressive reforms and restructuring as well as social movements contesting the reforms agenda.
The state government however seems to project a bit pessimistic view of the urbanization trends and patterns of the region4 . The urbanization level in Jharkhand has made a progress of 1.81 percentage points between 2001-11 moving from 22.24% in 2001 to 24.05% in 2011. The total number of towns in 2001 was 119 which rose to 152 in 2011 and even though the urbanization levels in the region falls short below the national average, the state has made a significant progress by adding a net urban population of 1.9 million. The historical growth of urban areas in Jharkhand region clearly shows a marked increase in the total number of towns after 1941. However the real jump in the growth of urban areas was visualized since 1951. Between 1951-61, 24 new towns were added to the list. However this number dropped down to 12 for the period 1971-81 reflected in the form of a slight hitch in the upward rising curve. Beyond 1981 there has been continued rise in the number of new towns with each successive decade, bringing in the total number of towns to 152. Well the regional patterns of urbanization portrays some quite interesting picture with majority of districts with very low level of urbanization while three districts namely Bokaro, Dhanbad and Purbi Singhbhum with more than 40% urbanization levels in 2001.
The highest level of urbanization was in Purbi Singhbhum district i.e. 55.03% while Godda experienced the lowest urbanization level of 3.53%. In 2011 the number of districts with above 40% urbanization level raised to 5 including Ranchi and the newly formed Ramgarh districts. Talking of the geographical distribution, the most urbanized areas were the east central and south east parts of the state in both the years. Such distribution patterns have developed owing largely to the pattern of industrial developments in the regions. Out of the five most industrialized districts, three are the hub of industrial activities in the state. Ranchi on the other hand accrues its urban growth to both industrial developments as well as to fact of being the administrative centre of the state. The districts in the north-east part of the state i.e. Godda, Pakur, Dumka, Deoghar, Giridih and Sahibganj too depicts urbanization levels well below 12% which is far below the state aggregate of 24.05% in 2011. The central rectangular strip running from north to south of the state including Kodarma, Hazaribag, Sariakela, and Paschim Singhbhum portrays urbanization levels between 12% to 40%. However the change in urbanization levels is highest in Ranchi district which experienced 8.07 percentage points of increment in the urbanization levels. Following Ranchi were Dhanbad and Palamu with 5.76% and 5.69% change respectively. Deoghar, Sahibganj, Bokaro, Pakur, Kodarma, Giridih, Godda and Garhwa experienced changes in urbanization levels between 1-3 percentage points. Well down below the ladder Lohardaga, Paschim Singhbhum and Hazaribagh have undergone de-urbanization with the highest negative growth of -7.35% in Hazaribagh. Apart from all these, one of the most disturbing aspects sprouting out of the regional patterns of urbanization in Jharkhand has been the continuous low level of urbanization in the entire western region comprising of Chatra, Palamu, Garhwa, Gumla and Simdega which has remained below 12% in both 2001 and 2011 as well. Thus the overall regional pattern of urbanization did not alter very significantly between 2001 and 2011. The central and south-eastern parts maintained their primacy in the urban hierarchy of the region.