Human Settlement: Factors Influencing the Type of Rural Settlements, House Types in India, Urban Settlements

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Factors Influencing the Type of Rural Settlements

There are three factors that influence the type of settlements in India. These factors are:

  • Physical Factors: These include relief, altitude, soil capability, climate, drainage, ground water level, etc. These factors influence the type and spacing of dwelling. For example, in dry regions of Rajasthan, water is a crucial factor and, therefore, houses are situated along a pond or well which guides the compactness of the settlement.

  • Ethnic and Cultural Factors: These include aspects like caste, community, ethnicity and religion. In India it is commonly found that the main land-owning caste resides at the centre of the village and the other service providing castes on the periphery. This leads to social segregation and fragmentation of a settlement into several units.

  • Historical or Defence Factors: In the past, mostly border areas of north-western plains were conquered or attacked frequently by outsiders. For a long time, apart from attack from outsiders, there had been continuous fight between princely states and kingdom within the country therefore, security concerns favoured the evolution of nucleated settlements.

House Types in India

Variations in house types or dwellings are mainly based on the building materials available. It is also based on topography and prevailing climatic conditions. In the rainy areas most of the roofs are slanting to both sides from the centre. This is also the case in areas where snowfall occurs. But the places where rainfall is scanty, roofs are flat.

As far as building materials are concerned, these can be grouped under two categories.

Building Materials Used for Walls

In India, building materials used for walls can broadly be grouped under five categories. These are:

  • Mud is the most common material, available from all types of soils, varying in texture and colour. It is also the widespread oldest material used in houses of old civilization. These vernacular buildings, involving family labour and neighbour’s co-operation and are available almost all parts of the country

  • Stone or basalt boulders or rock cut pieces are widely used in such areas where proximity, availability in greater amount and portability are favourable factors. Sandstone providing hilly zones, volcanic plateau zones exhibit examples of such houses in abundance.

  • Brick walls are now covering the countryside with the increased use of coal as baking material. Today brick kilns are commonly found in rural areas and bake bricks are freely available. Its role in construction cost, durability, space saving, and manner-variability is obvious. The oldest evidences of houses are available from the excavation of various sites of Indus valley civilization.

  • Mud mortar as cementing material, is widely used in countryside. Various other cementing material as mortar are used since ancient times. Now cement is covering the market in countryside too. Unbaked kuccha brick is also used for low height walls but, popular in poor class owners.

  • Timber or wooden wall houses have been common in forest areas because woods are available in abundance there. Just near the dwellings are the major factors for using these timbers as building materials. Examples are found in Bhil areas of Central India.

  • Wattle wall is mainly the product of terrain and forest cover. This is due to availability of material almost without cost and skill among the owners. These houses are mostly occupied by aboriginals of Vindhyas and Satpura. Mostly Gonds and Bhils reside in such houses. Their small dwellings occupy even the slopes and summits of the hills.

Building Materials Used for Roofs

These materials can broadly be grouped under seven categories. These are:

  • Tiled roofs are common throughout India. Two types of tiles- semi-cylindrical and flat are used for covering houses with varied sizes and forms. By and large, the size is larger in northern Indian plain and shorter in plateau and hilly areas.

  • Thatching is original shelter making skill, still prevalent in most of the poor class people. All sorts of walls are covered by thatch. Whether it is stone, timber or mud walled houses.

  • Mud thatching often mixed with cow dung, is common in western part of India. In western part of Uttar Pradesh such houses mark the horizon in each settlement. Its occasional plastering is enough to provide safety from rains.

  • Stone slabs or flakes are being used since ancient times in mountain, hilly, and plateau areas. Sandstone and slate-slabs make durable roofs after being cut and designed according to need.

  • Wood as roof material is common in northern mountainous region of India. In the north-eastern states wooden slabs are carefully superimposed and joined with rounded corners protect house from snow and rainwater. In lower altitude particularly Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir the houses are covered with tin or waterproof material.

  • Bricks make flat and smooth roof in the form lintel mixed with iron rods and cement, a practice in vogue, in modern type rural house particularly in rural market centres and commonly found in the houses of rural rich.

  • The use of traditional building material is decreasing, and it is being replaced by building material like, iron, tin sheets, cement, etc.

Urban Settlements

According to the Census of India urban areas are those which satisfy the conditions given below:

Image result for Urban Settlements

Image Result for Urban Settlements

  • All places with a municipality corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee etc.

  • All other places which satisfy the following criteria:

    • A minimum population of 5000,

    • at least 75 % of male working population engaged in non-agricultural sector, and

    • a density of population of at least 4,000 persons per square kilometre.

  • Besides, the direction of census operation in states and union territories were allowed to include in consultation with the state governments and union territory administration and the Census Commissioner of India, some places having distinct urban characteristics as urban even if such places did not strictly satisfy all the criteria mentioned under category (ii). Such cases include major project colonies, railway colonies, areas of intensive industrial development, important tourist centres, etc.

  • Therefore, there are two broad groups of town or urban settlement. The places which satisfy the conditions mentioned in category (i) are known as statutory town and the conditions mentioned in category (ii) are known as census towns.

  • Urban agglomeration may consist of any one of the three combinations given below:

    • a town and its adjoining urban outgrowth,

    • two or more contiguous towns with or without their outgrowths, and

    • a city and one or more adjoining towns with their outgrowths together forming contiguous stretch.

  • Examples of urban outgrowths are university campus, cantonment area, port area, seaport and airport, railway colonies, etc.

  • But these towns are not always permanent. In each census, towns are subjected to declassification and reclassification based on the prevailing condition at that particular time.

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