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Cities and Towns

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In India, the words “cities” and “towns” are defined in the Census of India – which provides statistical information on different characteristics of the people of India. The responsibility of conducting the decennial Census rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. (The 2011 census report may be seen here.)

Cities and Towns are part of urban settlements.

All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee, etc. so declared by a state law are called statutory towns.

Places which satisfy the following criteria are called census towns:

  1. A minimum population of 5,000;
  2. At least 75 per cent of the male main working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits; and
  3. A density of population of at least 400 persons per sq. km. (i.e. 1000 per sq. Mile)


Towns are further classified into different classes based on the size of population:

Class I: 100,000 and above;

Class II: 50,000 to 99,999;

Class III: 20,000 to 49,999;

Class IV: 10,000 to 19,999;

Class V: 5,000 to 9,999 and

Towns with population of 1,00,000 and above are called cities.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) uses the same population criteria to define the "Tier centers" - a concept used in designing incentives for bank branch / ATM expansions etc. Towns with population below 5000 are called Tier -6 centers. Tier 1 comprises metropolitan and urban centres, Tiers 2, 3, and 4 comprise semi-urban centres and Tiers 5 and 6 comprise rural centres.

An urban agglomeration (UA) is a continuous urban spread constituting a town and its adjoining outgrowths (OGs) which have come up near a statutory town outside its statutory limits but within the revenue limits of a village or villages contiguous to the town.

The UAs/Towns are grouped into the following categories on the basis their population in Census.

  • Class I UAs/Towns: The UAs/Towns which have at least 1,00,000 persons as population are categorized as Class I UA/Town. At the Census 2011, there are 468 suchUAs/Towns. The corresponding number in Census 2001 was 394.Around 70% of the total urban population lives in theseClass I UAs/Towns.
  • Million Plus UAs/Towns: UAs/Towns which have a population of one million (10 Lakh) or above each are known as Million Plus UAs/Cities. Out of 468 UAs/Towns belonging to Class I category, 53UAs/Towns are MillionPlus UAs/Cities in the country. 160.7 millionpersons (or 42.6% of the urban population) live in these Million Plus UAs/Cities as per Census 2011.
  • Metro Cities: UAs/Towns which have a population of four million (40 Lakh) or above each are known as Metro Cities. 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 has inserted a definition of “Metropolitan area" as an area having a population of ten lakhs or more, comprised in one or more districts and consisting of two or more Municipalities or Panchayats or other contiguous areas, specified by the Governor by public notification to be a Metropolitan area;
  • MegaCities: UAs with more than 10 million (100 lakh or 1 crore) persons are known as Mega Cities. Among the Million Plus UAs/Cities, there are three very large UAs withmore than 10 million persons in the country, known as Mega Cities. These areGreater Mumbai UA (18.4 million), Delhi UA (16.3 million) and Kolkata UA (14.1million).


The growth in population in the Mega Cities has slowed down considerablyduring the last decade. Greater Mumbai UA, which had witnessed 30.47% growth inpopulation during 1991-2001 has recorded 12.05% during 2001-2011. Similarly DelhiUA (from 52.24% to 26.69% in 2001-2011) and Kolkata UA (from 19.60% to 6.87% in2001-2011) have also slowed down considerably.


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