Periurban ? a Comparison Between India and Western Countries

Periurban ? a Comparison Between India and Western Countries


Robert K├Âlbl, Reinhard Haller,University of Technology, Vienna, AT


The EC funded project analysed peri-urban settlements of India's major cities and their developments are compared with cities from Europe and the USA. Proposed EC policies are assessed in regard of their effectiveness and sustainability.


The PERIURBAN project was an EC funded thematic network with the aim of obtaining an understanding for sustainable development in periurban settlements of India's major cities. The project?s focus was on a cross-sectional analysis including a socio-economic framework, the institutional setup and the analysis regarding energy and transport, which have not been explicitly tackled in previous projects of the same kind. The case studies have been carried out in several Indian major cities, such as Kolkatta, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmadabad and Chennai.

This paper extends the project analysis by a juxtaposition of the Indian City development with urban development of Western Europe and the US. Based on a literature review, parallels in development are identified and described.

Urban development is a complex issue which makes it difficult to identify unequivocal (cause-effect) relationships. Due to the multitude of involved aspects and overlapping trends, a number of potential driving forces are taken into account. The relevant literature usually considers ?general? socio-economic trends as the main element of urban evolution. However, as it will be shown from the analysis, transport infrastructure is not only an indispensable precondition for periurban development, but appears to be the key factor. Changes in travel behaviour, such as commute patterns, are the most obvious effect of transport infrastructure. Additionally, changes in the socio-economic entities in connection with changes in land-use, seem to be a result of a transport-driven process. In this respect, the lack of institutional control is often criticised, especially in the Indian context.

Differences between Indian and European & US developments are mainly characterised by time lags and, most noticeable, by the difference in magnitudes and speed. The empirical studies suggest that urban development in India currently progresses along a similar trajectory as in the US albeit with a delay of 50 to 100 years. Differences in magnitudes occur in regard to the absolute population of urban agglomerations. They are also manifested in regard to densities as highlighted, for example, by the paradoxical fact that population densities in Indian rural areas are frequently higher than in suburban areas in Europe and the US.

This means that the periurban problem has always potentially existed in the Indian context as it does in Europe and the US. The perception and acknowledgement of the problem, however, has been prompted mainly by the increase in motorised transport, or by the degradation in land-use and the environment.

Several policy recommendations are developed which are compared with those given in other EU projects (see These should determine the effectiveness of such recommendations, which support a development where Indian cities could prevent some of the problems with which western cities have currently to cope.


Association for European Transport