CPR-CSH Workshop on New Towns in West Bengal by Mahalaya Chatterjee of Centre for Urban Economic Studies, University of Calcutta.
Date: Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Time: 3.45 p.m.
Venue: Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021
West Bengal is the most urbanised state of Eastern and North-eastern India. It ranked fourth at the time of Independence and though its rank deteriorated subsequently, the level of urbanisation remained higher than the national average. A central feature of urbanisation in the state was the primacy of the city of Kolkata, which is in part a colonial legacy. The two other regions of the state which showed relatively higher levels of urbanisation were the mining-cum-industrial region around Asansol-Durgapur in the western part and the trading-cum-transport hub around Siliguri in North Bengal. During this time, the emergence of new towns was also concentrated in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area and the Asansol-Durgapur area.
In 2001, the overall rate of urbanisation slowed down and as many as 68 towns were declassified, a feature hitherto unknown to West Bengal. But, just when it was thought that urbanisation is losing its vigour in the state, the preliminary results of the 2011 Census came out with another surprise. Not only had the rate of urbanisation increased enormously, it also surpassed the national rate for the first time since Independence. The second striking feature was the number of new towns and their spatial distribution. More than 500 new towns emerged in the state and they are not concentrated in the two regions, as before. Major concentrations of urban centres are emerging in so-called underdeveloped districts of Murshidabad, South 24 Parganas and Purulia. This presentation looks into this particular phenomenon and attempts an explanation in the light of available Census data.
Dr. Mahalaya Chatterjee is presently the Director of Centre for Urban Economic Studies, Department of Economics, University of Calcutta, where she is involved in research on urbanisation and urban planning and management. She has published two books and a number of articles in edited books and journals on related topics. She is on the advisory board of a number of research journals and is also a consultant on urban planning to the Government of West Bengal. She received her PhD from the University of Calcutta.
This is the forty ninth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society and politics. For further information, please contact: Jayani Bonnerjee at firstname.lastname@example.org, Partha Mukhopadhyay at email@example.com or Marie-Hélène Zerah at firstname.lastname@example.org