Thursday, February 20, 2014

25 February 2014: New Towns in West Bengal

Mahalaya Chatterjee
University of Calcutta

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. In a season of re-thinking systems and structures the presentation hopes to open the pandora’s box of education governance in a bid to widen the debate beyond outcomes and nudge the analysis towards finding solutions to some of the entrenched problems of governance in this crucial sector.

Date: February 25, 2014
Time: 03:45 P.M.

Conference Hall
Centre for Policy Research,
Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri,
New Delhi–110021(INDIA)


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