In a study by the UN Habitat and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Kozhikode has been termed as the fastest growing urban habitat. 200 cities from around the world were studied,17 were from India and Kozhikode topped the list of Indian cities.
The IT and real estate boom happening in Kozhikode has caused an increase in the intra-state migration. The inclusion of peripheral areas with urban characteristics into urban outgrowths has triggered the formation of new municipal towns. This in turn has further increased the effective urbanised area and population.
Being a port city, Kozhikode was always known for its spice traders and Urus, it is now known for its growing IT industry. Cities like Kochi and Trivandrum are giants when you compare them to Kozhikode in the IT sector. Even though the odds were stacked against Kozhikode, the IT sector is booming due to organisations like CAFIT ( Calicut Forum for IT). They have generated a sense of camaraderie between the various IT startups instead of unhealthy competition.This has further improved the work culture and profits, thus attracting a huge immigrant workforce
Reports from the department of Town and Country planning show that the percentage of urban population is 67.15 while the state average is 47.72. Between the years of 2001 and 2014, Kozhikode registered an annual population growth of 7.6%, an urban area increase of 15.2% and the total built up area increase of 14.8%.
This explosive growth in urbanisation has made the planners call for Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) for Kozhikode. It is mandatory for states to set up a MPC when the population exceeds ten lakhs in the area. A similar organisation, the Calicut Development Authority (CDA), which had jurisdiction over the Kozhikode Corporation, Ramanattukkara and Feroke municipalities, and Kunnamangalam, Peruvayil, Perumanna, Olavanna, Kakkodi, Kuruvattur and Kadalundi Grama Panchayats, was disbanded a few years ago. This further points to the need for a MPC that can coordinate the activities of the local bodies and ensure that the fringe population is not neglected.
If foolproof city planning with sustainable development in mind is not done, Kozhikode is going to be just like the other cities in India with limited resources and lots of mouths to feed. We will face water shortages, pollution and traffic jams and we will drive out the less fortunate to the slums in the outskirts.