An Assessment of the Extent of Redistribution of Population in Majuli Island, Assam

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"Majuli, the worlds largest inhabited river island has been shrinking in size over the years due primarily to the phenomenon of river bank erosion leaving only 421.65 of the island by the year 2001 rendering hundreds homeless especially during floods. Needless to mention, this accelerated rate of shrinking in the size of the island cannot be without its impact on the society, economy, demography and culture. An important dimension of the problem relates to redistribution of people on account of the loss of villages, agricultural land and other economic support base. The present study aims at assessing the magnitude of the problem of redistribution in the island both within and out. Using data available from successive census enumeration at the village level; from the year 1971 till 2001, the study measures the extent of population redistribution through an analysis of changes in the number and size of settlements, changes in settlement structure and changes in population distribution, density patterns and growth of population. It is hypothesized that the rate of shrinkage in the size of the island is directly related to an accentuation in the process of internal redistribution of population and/ or out-migration of people and changes in settlement structure leading to greater proportion of large sized villages. A section, largely unable to find alternate source of livelihood elsewhere, however may still remain within the island by shifting to another location within the island itself through the process of internal redistribution. The process of internal redistribution is likely to induce changes in settlement structure as many small sized settlements would then become bigger with additional people."



population growth, land tenure and use