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Urbanisation and Urban Sprawl


The study of urbanisation has evinced interest from a wide section of the society including experts, amateurs, and novices. The multidisciplinary scope of the subject invokes the interest from ecologists, to urban planners and civil engineers, to sociologists, to administrators and policy makers, students and finally the common man. With the development and infrastructure initiatives mostly around the urban centres, the impacts of urbanisation and sprawl would be on the environment and the natural resources. The wisdom lies in how effectively we plan the urban growth without - hampering the environment, excessively harnessing the natural resources and eventually disturbing the natural set-up. The research on these help urban residents and policymakers make informed decisions and take action to restore these resources before they are lost. Ultimately the power to balance the urban ecosystems rests with regional awareness, policies, administration practices, management issues and operational problems. This publication on urban systems is aimed at helping scientists, policy makers, engineers, urban planners and ultimately the common man to visualise how towns and cities grow over a period of time based on investigations in the regions around the highway and cities. Two important highways in Karnataka, South India, viz., Bangalore Mysore highway and the Mangalore Udupi highway, in Karnataka and the Tiruchirapalli Tanjavore Kumbakonam triangular road network in Tamil Nadu, South India, were considered in this investigation.

 Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing data were used to analyse the pattern of urbanisation. This was coupled with the spatial and temporal data from the Survey of India toposheets (for 1972), satellite imageries procured from National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) (LANDSAT TM for 1987 and IRS LISS III for 1999), demographic details from the Census of India (1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001) and the village maps from the Directorate of Survey Settlements and Land Records, Government of Karnataka. All this enabled in quantifying the increase in the built-up area for nearly three decades. With intent of identifying the potential sprawl zones, this could be modelled and projected for the future decades. Apart from these the study could quantify some of the metrics that could be used in the study of urban sprawl.


 Urban sprawl refers to the extent of urbanisation, which is a global phenomenon mainly driven by population growth and large scale migration. In developing countries like India, where the population is over one billion, one-sixth of the world's population, urban sprawl is taking its toll on the natural resources at an alarming pace. Urban planners require information related to the rate of growth, pattern and extent of sprawl to provide basic amenities such as water, sanitation, electricity, etc. In the absence of such information, most of the sprawl areas in this part of the globe lack basic infrastructure facilities. Pattern and extent of sprawl could be modelled with the help of spatial and temporal data. GIS and remote sensing data along with collateral data help in analysing the growth, pattern and extent of sprawl. With the spatial and temporal analyses along with modeling it was possible to identify the pattern of sprawl and subsequently predict the nature of future sprawl.

This study brings out the extent and pattern of sprawl taking place over a period of nearly three decades using GIS and Remote Sensing. The study also attempts to describe some of the landscape metrics required for quantifying sprawl. For understanding and modeling this dynamic phenomenon, prominent causative factors are considered.

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