Growth Pole Programme for Unorganised Sector Enterprise Development

01 Apr, 2009


  1. Over 92 per cent of the country’s workforce (422 million workers) is employed in the unorganised sector. More than 55 per cent of India’s workforce identifies as self-employed.

  2. The NCEUS classifies clusters into three kinds – those dominated by relatively modern small firms in urban areas, those consisting of artisans and rural industries, and those based on the agricultural economy. The ‘growth pole’ programme focuses on the last two clusters, which are dependent on natural resources. 

  3. The six pilot ‘growth pole’ projects would be implemented in villages in Dausa district, Rajasthan, Howrah district, West Bengal, Kollam district, Kerala, Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, Champa district, Chhattisgarh, and south-west Kamrup, Assam. 

  4. In Dausa district, the main enterprises are stone cutting and carving, carpet weaving, leather goods, saw mills and dairy farms. The proposed project will be spread over 361 villages and help these enterprises form linkages with the market, provide them with infrastructural support, attract new industries to the area and generate employment for 37,900 people after five years. 

  5. In Chamoli district, livelihoods are mostly dependent on agriculture, religious tourism and home-based industries. The proposed project will be spread over three blocks and help increase and diversify tourism, provide support to agriculture, horticulture, livestock, wool and handicrafts industries, strengthen infrastructure and generate employment for 31,517 people.

  6. In Kollam district, the main enterprises are cashew, coir and fishing. The proposed project will cover seven villages and Kollam town, and help develop these afoermentioned enterprises as well as new ones such as tourism, handicrafts and lake development. It will generate employment for 32,212 people in five years.

  7. Champa district is well known for its craft-based industries, especially tussar silk, brass, bronze and jewellery. Other enterprises include rice milling, agriculture and weaving. The proposed project will cover four blocks and help develop sectors like dairy, besides introducing new ones in the electrical, automobile and construction fields. It will generate employment for 53,684 people at the end of the project period. 

  8. In Howrah district, the proposed project will cover two blocks. The main enterprises here are sarees, gold jewellery, garments, imitation jewellery and ornamental fish. They face a high degree of intermediation, have poor market connectivity, skill and access to credit. The project will help develop the gold and imitation jewellery sector, zari work, garments, ornamental fish farming and agriculture, and generate employment for 74,975 people at the end of the project period.

  9. In south-west Kamrup district, the proposed project will cover six blocks. The main enterprise here is agriculture followed by sericulture, collecting forest products, medicinal plants, tourism and manufacturing. The project will help develop infrastructure that can be used in agriculture, horticulture, sericulture and bamboo plantation, and generate employment for 32,212, people after three years.

  10. All six pilot projects are likely to generate an increase in income per person, with an average growth of 145 per cent over five years. The average increase in productivity in the ‘growth pole’ regions is estimated at 46 per cent over five years. The average addition to GDP per project is estimated at Rs. 320 crores per year after five years.

  11. The expected social benefits in the project areas include greater participation of women in the workforce, reduced unemployment, greater literacy, diversification of skills, better infrastructure, strengthened markets and improved health facilities.

  12. The NCEUS recommended that the ‘growth pole’ model should be adopted in every state and facilitated by a ‘special purpose vehicle’ – a private-public limited company run by the state and private entities.

    Factoids and Focus compiled by Ajay Srinivasmurthy.


The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) was set up in 2004 by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as an advisory body and a watchdog for the informal sector. Its mandate was to increase the productivity of enterprises in the unorganised sector and create large-scale employment, particularly in rural areas.

The NCEUS found that the development schemes for clusters – that is, enterprises concentrated in an area and producing the same or similar products – had several limitations. Therefore, it proposed the Growth Pole programme, which would increase production and employment in and around existing clusters of industrial activities and services, and encourage the formation of new clusters as well.

The NCEUS developed proposals for six pilot ‘growth pole’ projects in Rajasthan, West Bengal, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Assam. Subsequently, these state governments prepared detailed project reports based on the NCEUS’s guidelines. The ‘growth pole’ projects would be implemented through public-private partnerships.


National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector