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Int. Journal of Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS, Vol. 4, No.

1, 2015
Copyright by authors under Creative Commons License 3.0
Research article
ISSN 2277 9450

Assessment of urban sprawl using landscape metrics: A temporal

analysis of Ludhiana city in Punjab
Dheera Kalota
Senior Research Associate, NCERT, New Delhi, India and Senior Research Associate, Department of
Elementary Education, National Council of Educational Research and Training, New Delhi.
Abstract: The developing world is being transformed by urbanization rapidly. The increasing
population has transformed agricultural land into industrial, administrative or cultural urban centers.
This has ultimately resulted in increasing environmental problems and degrading quality of life in urban
centers. Ludhiana city in Punjab, a major cultural and industrial urban centre in the region, has urbanized
considerably with time. The city is struggling with different environmental and urban problems due to
sprawl and unplanned development. The present paper attempts to study sprawling of the city using
landscape metrics. The research has been conduct with the help of satellite imageries/toposheet from
1955-2009, which has been used for extracting thematic layers related to urban surface. On the basis of
extracted built-up area, annual growth rate and landscape metrics are measured and analyzed.
Subsequently, impact of urban sprawl on environment of the city is also assessed.
Keywords: Landscape metrics, Urban sprawl, Urban geography, Geographic Information System

1. Introduction
Unplanned development and uncontrolled human population has resulted into degradation of natural
environment. This is attributed to the fact that as population increases, so does the need for new housing,
schools, transportation and other civic amenities. The term Urbanization, with unplanned growth,
uneven utilization and increase in built-up area along the urban and rural fringe becomes Urban Sprawl
(Basawaraja, Chari, Mise and Chetti, 2011, Feng li, 2012). As defined in Transportation Research Board
2002 report, Sprawl is "peripheral growth that expands in an unlimited and non-contiguous way outward
from the solid built-up core of a metropolitan area". This phenomenon is more evident in case of
developing countries. Developing countries like India have to find viable solutions not only for
increasing population and problem of sprawl and unplanned urbanization but also for environmental
problems emerging due to it like decreasing natural vegetation/agricultural area, degrading water quality,
air pollution, emerging heat islands, increased CO2 and above all climate change. Thus, in urban area it
becomes crucial to identify urban sprawl apart from rational/normal/reasonable urbanization.
As per the World Bank data 2013, India is second largest country in terms of population which is still
growing. Being a developing nation, the urban sprawl in Indian cities is characterized by unplanned and
unbalanced spreading out of the urbanized area. Major aspects of urban sprawl in Indian cities are
disproportionately converting of farmland to urban uses, scattered and mixed land use, developments at
the urban fringe like commercial structures, slums and squatter-settlements, built-up dwellings without
any proper plan, mixed land uses, areas of agricultural production usurped by urban units, dispersed
location of settlements suffering from urban facilities, traffic congestion etc. Sprawl in Indian cities like
---------------------------*Corresponding author (Email:
Received on September 2015; Accepted on October 2015; Published on November, 2015


Assessment of urban sprawl using landscape metrics: A temporal analysis of Ludhiana city in Punjab

Varanasi (Singh 1968), Delhi Metropolitan region (Nangia 1976), Aligarh (Farooq and Ahmad 2008),
Raichur (Basawaraja et al., 2011), Hyderabad (Gandhi and Suresh 2012), Gorakhpur (Dubey and Kumar
2013), Jaipur (Sankhala and Singh 2014), and Mumbai (Ramachandra, Bharath and Sowmyashree,
2014) and many more have been analysed using different methodologies. In these studies, remote
sensing, GIS and survey techniques have been used extensively for identification and analysis of sprawl
by extracting information regarding built-up area. However, on the basis of extracted information related
to built-up areas and change in built-up areas, the real patterns of urban sprawl cannot be assessed.
The urban agglomerate of Ludhiana city, undertaken as study area in the present paper, is a prominent
industrial centre of northern India and has been referred to as India's Manchester by BBC (2006). The
city has duly expanded in its area and population since its inception in 1480s by Lodhi Dynasty and was
further developed during the British times. Ludhiana is the only million-plus urban agglomerations in
the state, with an estimated population of 16,13,878 (Census, 2011). Figure 1 clearly shows the growing
trend of urban population in Ludhiana from 1951 to 2011. From 1951 to 2011, the population of the city
has increased 10 times. Partition of the country in 1947, resulted into sudden reflux of refugees from
West Pakistan (Duggal, 2009). These immigrants took up industrial ventures and thus the industrial
development of the city started resulting in industrial growth. Subsequently, due to increased
employment opportunities more people settled in the city. The city residents profile (Figure 1) shows
above 50 percent population growth in decades of 1961-1971, 1971-1981 and 1981-1991. However,
during the period of 1991-2001, the growth rate came down to 37.8%. This incessant increase in
population and lack of any planning authority has resulted in problem of urban sprawl. The pattern of
urbanization from 1951 to present times is assessed through landscape metrics.

Source: Census of India, 2011

Figure 1: Growth trends of urban population in Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.
Landscape metrics are commonly used tools in field of landscape ecology to understand landscape
characteristics (pattern and structure), changes in landscape and complexity of landscape structure.
Landscapes are dynamic systems which are changing continuously because of increasing human
interruptions. In landscape metrics, landscape structure and changes are evaluated using different
quantitative indices calculated on the basis of shape, size, pattern and extent of a landscape (Johnston,
1998; Gkyer, 2013). One of the main reasons for utilizing landscape metrics for assessing urban sprawl
is that spatial arrangement of urban built-ups indicates socio-economic changes over a range of temporal
Dheera Kalota
Int. Journal of Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015


Assessment of urban sprawl using landscape metrics: A temporal analysis of Ludhiana city in Punjab

scales. Single landscape pattern metric cannot capture all the aspects of landscape characteristics; a suite
of selected metrics may be useful in interpreting landscape change. In view of this, landscape metric
tools, in-conjunction with GIS, are utilized in this study to quantitatively determine spatial patterns of
urban sprawl in Ludhiana city. In addition, the impacts of urban sprawl on the environment of the city
are also assessed.
2. Aim and objectives

The main aim of the present work done by authors is as follows,

1. To analyse urban expansion of the Ludhiana city over time from 1951 to 2011 using remote
sensing techniques.
2. To evaluate urban sprawl in the city by comparing growth of built-up area with respect to the
growth of population in the city.
3. To determine spatial patterns of urban sprawl in Ludhiana city through landscape metric tools,
in-conjunction with GIS
4. To assess the impacts of urban sprawl on the environment of the city.
2.1 Study Area

The city is positioned at 4056N, 7548E with an area of approximately 310 km2 and average elevation
of 244 meters above mean sea level (798 ft). The location map is shown in figure 2. The Ludhiana M.C
shows the municipal limit of the city and positioning of major road and rail networks passing through
the city are also shown. The city is well connected to major cities (Chandigarh by NH 95 and to New
Delhi, Amritsar via NH 1). Suitably located in the heart of the country, availability of sufficient
workforce and favorable climatic and topographical conditions are detrimental in establishing the city
as a major cultural and industrial nucleus of the region.
3. Materials and methodology

The present paper uses multi-temporal satellite imagery to analyse the spatial expansion of the urban
area of Ludhiana since 1971, together with rapid population growth. For delineation of built-up area,
toposheet and remote sensing data of five years i.e. 1955, 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009 is used. Built up
area of 1955 has been digitized from India and Pakistan Series U502, toposheet number NH43-7
(1:250,000) prepared by U.S. Army Map Service, 1955. The built-up area of 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009
is extracted from land use/land cover map, classified from LANDSAT imagery of respective years. For
this purpose, the MSS imagery of year 1979 (WRS I), 1989 (WRS II) and TM imagery of 1999 and
2009 (WRS II) has been acquired. The images of 1979, 1989 and 1999 are SLC-on. The SLC-off
LANDSAT imagery of 2009 is gap filled using ENVI 4.7. Subsequently, subset of the study area, i.e.
Ludhiana city with its surroundings, is clipped. The FCC of all three different years was classified using
supervised classification and maximum likelihood method in Envi 4.7. After classification of the data,
built-up region is extracted using overlay analysis in ArcGIS 10.1 and subsequently area of the extracted
built-up is calculated.

Dheera Kalota
Int. Journal of Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015


Assessment of urban sprawl using landscape metrics: A temporal analysis of Ludhiana city in Punjab

Figure 2: Location Map of Ludhiana city

The population of the city for the same years is required for the assessing sprawl in the city. For this
purpose, population figures of Ludhiana municipal corporation were obtained from the census report of
1951, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011 and interpolated for intermediate years (1979, 1989, 1999
and 2009) using annual growth rate.

Annual Growth rate = F

( )

F = Final value of population
I = Initial value of population
n = Number of years
For assessing the patterns of sprawl in Ludhiana city, landscape metrics are calculated using FRAGSTAT
4.2. In this study, selected landscape metrics i.e. parameter area ratio, shape index, fractal dimension
index, and contiguity index are calculated to analyze the change in built-up areas patch. These indexes
are a collection of unit-less metrics that quantify and analyze landscape patches on the basis of geometric
shape, complexity and compactness. The metrics used in this study are described in table 1:

Dheera Kalota
Int. Journal of Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015


Assessment of urban sprawl using landscape metrics: A temporal analysis of Ludhiana city in Punjab

Table 1: Brief explanation of Landscape metrics used

Perimeterarea ratio

Shape index




Without considering changes in Above 0, without

shape, an increase in perimeter- limit.
area ratio signifies decrease in
Where, Pb perimeter of the patch size and vice versa.
built-up patch,
Ab Area of built-up
Normalized ratio of patch Equal to 1 in case of
perimeter divided by the square or almost
min Pb
minimum perimeter possible for square
Where, Pb is perimeter of a maximally compact patch (in a patch and 1
built-up patch in terms of square raster format), thereby (without limit) as
number of cell surfaces, alleviating the size dependency the patch shape
min Pb is minimum problem of Perimeter-area ratio. becomes
perimeter of built-up
patch in terms of number
of cell surfaces.



2 ln(.25Pb )
ln Ab

Fractal dimension index is

appealing because it reflects
shape complexity across a range
Where, Pb is perimeter of of spatial scales (Styers, 2008).
built-up patch,
Ab is Area of built-up

From 1 to 2 (1 for
shapes with simple
parameters such as
approaches 2 for


v =1 1

v 1

From 0 to 1 (0 for a
one-pixel patch and
increases to a limit
of 1 as patch

Contiguity index assesses the

contiguity, of cells within a gridcell patch to provide an index of
patch boundary configuration
and thus patch shape (LaGro
1991). Areas
Where, ci is contiguity contiguity
value for pixel i in built represent a more urban area
up patch,
than the one with the lower
v is sum of value in a 33 contiguity index (John R.
cell template,
Weeks, 2010)
Ab is area of built-up
patch in terms of number
of cells.

In this research, mentioned landscape metrics are used to analyze the changes in spatial configuration
of built-up areas in Ludhiana from 1955 to 2009. According to these results, conclusions for the
landscape metrics of Ludhiana city have been drawn.

Dheera Kalota
Int. Journal of Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015


Assessment of urban sprawl using landscape metrics: A temporal analysis of Ludhiana city in Punjab

4. Results and discussion

Expansion of the city from 1951 to 2011: From 1951 to 2011, the city is excessively urbanized which
has significantly altered the physical boundary of Ludhiana city. The excessive and unguided increase
in the built-up areas can be observed from 1955 to 2009 in figure 3. Due to lack of any planning authority
and sudden influx of migrant labors, the city has developed haphazardly. The urban expansion of the
city is mostly concentrated towards South-west of the city. Major inclination of the urban expansion of
the city is, in a more or less linear fashion, along NH1. However, after 1989 the city has spread
horizontally but in a disproportionate manner, along all major road networks. In 2009, the city is still
expanding along outer fringes. Developments along major road networks in 2009 has resulted in a linear
branch pattern type expansion continuing towards other major cities like Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Ambala
and Firozpur. In summary, the urban area has expanded exponentially from 1955 to 2009 and in an
unplanned haphazard manner.

Figure 3: Built up area from 1955 to 2009

Comparison of Growth Rate of Built-up and population: The proportion of the total population in a
region to the total built-up area of the region is a measure to quantify sprawl (Feng Li, 2012). The annual
percent growth rate of built-up area and population is shown in table 2. The annual growth-rate of built
up area shows a diminishing trend in tiem period, 1955-1979, 1979-1989 and 1989-1999. However
from 1999-2009, again it has increased to 7.62 percent per year. On the whole, from 1955 to 2009 period,
the annual growth rate of built up area is 7.85 percent per year. On the contrary, the annual growth-rate
of population is showing a decreasing trend from 1955 to 2009. On the whole, from 1955 to 2009, the
annual growth rate of population is 4.04 percent per year. The annual percent rate of growth in city
buil-up area from 1955 to 2009 is approximately double to the annual percent rate of growth in city
population. This indicates presence of sprawl in Ludhiana city.
Dheera Kalota
Int. Journal of Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015


Assessment of urban sprawl using landscape metrics: A temporal analysis of Ludhiana city in Punjab

Table 2: Comparison of Annual Percent Growth Rate of Built-up and population


Growth Rate of
Built-up area (in %)

Annual Percent Growth

Rate of Population (in %)

Analysis of landscape metrics: The selected landscape metrics are unit-less indicator of patterns in
landscape patches quantifying and analyzing spatial phenomenon on the basis of geometric shape,
complexity and compactness. The metrics of urban expansion calculated from 1955 to 2009 from
extracted built-up area in corresponding years is shown in table 3. The Parameter area ratio of the builtup patch has continuously decreased from 1955 to 2009. The increase in area of the patch is in inverse
relation to this index. Sharp decline of the index is observed in from 1955 to 1979 and in 1999 to 2009,
indicating severe and unsystematic expansion of built-up area. However, a more gentle decrease in the
index is observed from 1979 to 1999. Shape index is constantly increasing from 1955 to 2009. It
indicates to the irregularity in built-up area patch which is accounted to cropping up of haphazard,
diverse and unplanned developments of varying nature/mixed land use i.e. residential colonies, marriage
palaces, slums, malls, multiplexes and showrooms in outer periphery of the city.
Table 3: Landscape metrics
Landscape metrics


Parameter Area Ratio

37.0358 22.4355 20.5572 20.1201 13.0054

Shape Index






Fractal Dimension Index 1.0564










Contiguity Index





Fractal Dimension Index is persistently increasing from 1955 to 2009 which can be contributed to severe
sprawling and expanding of fringe areas in the suburbs. Fractal Dimension Index measures intricacy and
complexity of urban dimension. The urban built-up area in the city has haphazardly developed with
because of lack of any planning and in-migration. Contiguity index is increasing from 1955 to 2009
more rapidly in initial time span of 1955 to 1979 and gently afterwards. Areas with high contiguity index
would represent a more urban area than the one with the lower contiguity index (John R. Weeks, 2010)
as contiguity index assesses the spatial connectedness in a patch. Impact of Sprawl on urban environment
of the city: The city of Ludhiana today faces multifarious physio/socio-economic and infrastructural
problems due to unplanned urbanization. The environment of the city has deteriorated. Existence of
large number of industrial units has adversely impacted the quality of air in the Ludhiana metropolis.
Central Pollution Control Board has placed Ludhiana at 10th critically polluted industrial cluster
Dheera Kalota
Int. Journal of Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015


Assessment of urban sprawl using landscape metrics: A temporal analysis of Ludhiana city in Punjab

position on the basis of Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI is a rational number to
characterize the environmental quality at a given location following the algorithm of source, pathway
and receptor. The index captures the various health dimensions of environment including air, water and
land) score of 81.66. As per the Central Pollution Control Board, annual report 2009-10, the Respirable
Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) is at critical level of 254 g/m3. The presence of higher level of
SPMs can be attributed to mixing of dust from open land, pollutants from industrial area and smoke
from vehicular traffic. Due to sprawling activity, the number of vehicles in the city has also increased.
Increase in number of people staying in outer parts of the city has led to increased commuting activity
(Ludhiana approved master plan report, 2011). CEPI in respect of air has been calculated as 68 for
Ludhiana Industrial Cluster as per which Ludhiana has been declared as critically polluted area. Rapidly
increasing urbanization and industrialization of Ludhiana has not only adversely impacted the quality
of ambient air in the city but also has affected the citys water resources. Budha Nallah, an unlined canal,
is the major surface water resource of the city. Being the recipient of citys untreated domestic and toxic
industrial/solid waste, dumping of ash from burnt rice husk etc. has degraded the quality of water,
considerably. The pollution of Budha Nallah has adversely affected the quality of surface water as well
as ground water of the major part of the city and its environs. As per the Punjab Pollution Control Board,
Ludhiana there is also presence of considerable level of pollutants including suspended/dissolved solids
and heavy metals like Chromium, Lead, Nickel and Zinc, Dyes and Cyanide etc (Ludhiana approved
master plan report, 2011). As per the report of Central Pollution Control Board, the cumulative
environmental pollution index has been observed to be 66 for water pollution, which is quite high.
5. Conclusion

Unplanned and haphazard sprawling adversely affect and reduce open/green spaces, reduce fertile
cultivation land, increases pollution (air, noise, water, waste), decreases aesthetic appeal of landscape,
thereby, degrading the overall quality of life. In addition to this, urban sprawl places unnecessary strains
on urban services, local finance, social structure and equity . In Ludhiana city, haphazard and unplanned
urban growth has resulted in exponential expansion of urban built-up areas from 1955 to 2009. Outcome
of such developments is visible in serious shortfall in urban infrastructure, rise of pollution and existence
of unhygienic living environment. However, the Punjab government has initiated master plan for
Ludhiana M.C for planned development of the urban area. Landscape metrics provide many facilities in
landscape ecology studies (Gkyer, 2013). These measurements allow a very robust characterization of
urban form (Banister et al, 1997; Longley and Mesev, 2000; Martin, Scepan, and Clarke, 2002) and are
useful for representing urban processes and functionality and contributes to urban models (Martin et al.,
2002). Temporal and spatial analysis can be done utilizing these metrics to assess landscape structure
and human effects in changing landscape of a region. This study demonstrates the utility of landscape
metrics in conjunction with remote sensing and GIS techniques to assess dynamics of Urban sprawl in
Ludhiana city.
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Int. Journal of Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015


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Dheera Kalota
Int. Journal of Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015