An ideal method of the delimitation of R-U fringe actually depends upon intensive fieldwork from village-to-village around a limit of nearly 10 to 15 kms from the central city limits. But the scholars have not yet been able to delimit the fringe of a city based on actual studies from village-to-village, especially in India. Whatever work is being done in this respect it is based either on a sample survey of the villages or it is wholly based on the secondary data of the censuses.
Some of the metropolitan cities have been studied and none of these studies in India is based on actual field survey for delimitation of the R-U fringe. Delhi, Bangalore, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Kolkata are notable studies but these suffer from an inadequate and ambiguous conceptual framework for the delimitation of the fringe zone, being overwhelmingly based on the census of India.
Practically, the delimitation of the R-U fringe is a matter of thorough understanding about its structural composition. It is composed of several attributes like city municipal limits, contiguous small urbanised towns, urbanised villages around the city, and also villages associated with the city by virtue of their other functions. Figure 17.3 reveals the structure of the R-U fringe by pathetically in its spatial perspective.
On the above basis as indicated in the figure the fringe area of a city may fall into the following three main categories:
(i) Generally around the central-city limits for about two kilometers, an innermost ring of the fringe may develop. It contains small towns and urbanized villages. In case of metropolitan area, for example, the Greater Mumbai, the fringe may begin within the city limits.
(ii) The next level of the fringe area extends further for a distance of five kilometers or more around the previous one. It forms the middle zone of the fringe and includes non-municipal towns and urbanized villages.
(iii) The third category forming the outer zone includes the villages having little or no urban land uses. Nonetheless, they are linked with the city by their allied functions.
The above categories are imperceptibly merged into each other and cannot be easily identified without closely examining their land uses in the concerned area. It is once again reiterated that for a proper demarcation of the inner and outer boundaries of the R-U fringe, a field survey of all the villages is a necessity.
The Delhi and Bangalore studies in the R-U fringe used the following variables to determine the outer boundary:
(a) Density of population – 400 km2 or more,
(b) Population growth in the preceding decade – 40 per cent or more,
(c) Females per thousand males – 800 or less,
(d) Proportion of workers to non-agricultural activities – 50 per cent or more, and
(e) The out limit of city bus services or local train services.
The inner zone of R-U fringe is in the advanced stage of transition from rural to urban uses. The outer zone shows that gradual change is in the process and city influences have begun to appear. Beyond the outer zone is a diffused area where dispersal of some non-farm residences appears.
At the city margins everywhere, the fringes contain a wide mix of land uses ranging from a variety of commercial developments to the city services and industries. Some of the cities of the Western world have their fringes turned into ‘unpleasant environment’ by noxious industrial units, junkyards, wholesale oil storage, sewage plants, and even cemeteries. Out-of-town shopping centres also form a part of the western cities’ fringes.
In India, urban fringe has become almost jumbled by coalescing of settlements inheriting all the evils of conurbations such as slums full of ‘jhuggi-jhonparis’, drainageless unpaved narrow lanes and traffic congestion not far off the city centre.
Fringes have usurped the land which was formerly under the agricultural production – ‘baris’ and orchards. In brief, R-U fringe areas in India offer the greatest challenges to the urban planner.