The Development of the Central Kolkata Area between 1960s and 1980s

In 1960s, Kolkata’s situation was mostly chaotic out of many reasons in the contemporary background. Firstly, a violent Communist movement–which was called the Naxalites Marxist-Maoist Movement—resulted into a large scale deterioration of infrastructural facilities in Kolkata. Secondly, the Civil War that separated India into contemporary India and Pakistan caused fluxes of refugees flooding into the city, which led to a severe lack of accommodation and outburst of slums. Thirdly, the city was plagued by cholera and other spreading diseases due to the insanitary water supplies and crowded living conditions.  All these political, social and military upheavals resulted into the widely recognized decay in Kolkata’s urban life, which means an immediate planning strategy to re-energize the area’s activities was urgently needed.[1]

 

The improvement of Kolkata urban area started with B C Roy’s invitation of the World Health Organization to research on the insanitary conditions in Kolkata and propose feasible resolutions to it. The World Health Organization proposed after investigating in Kolkata’s situation a long-term upgrading plan that involved improvement of ‘water supply, sewerage, drainage and garbage disposal’[2]. The several measures suggested by the organization include providing clean water supply, stopping the supply of unclean insanitary water, cleaning Hooghly River of constant pollution and extension of sewage disposal system.

 

Despite all the detailed planning, the outcome after 20 years was not optimistic as it was predicted. There is only instable provision of light, medical services, clean water and sufficient food. The major streets are covered with illegal structures put forward by all the unregulated hawkers and their goods, where floods would be unstoppable during raining seasons[3]. The reason for these failures should be largely the lack of alternative plans in the beginning, where only a singular plan was put forward under the guidance of modern urban planning theories of the western. When unexpected situations came up during the twenty years, the governmental officials had no choice but to follow the settled development plan.

 

[1] Banga, Indu. The City in Indian History: Urban Demography, Society, and Politics. Manohar Publishers, 1991.

[2] Bagchi, Amaresh. “Planning for Metropolitan Development: Calcutta’s Basic Development Plan, 1966-86: A Post-Mortem.” Economic and Political Weekly 22, no. 14 (January 4, 1987): 597–601. Accessed December 23, 2016. doi:10.2307/4376875. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/4376875.pdf.

[3] Bagchi, Amaresh. “Planning for Metropolitan Development: Calcutta’s Basic Development Plan, 1966-86: A Post-Mortem.” Economic and Political Weekly 22, no. 14 (January 4, 1987): 597–601. Accessed December 23, 2016. doi:10.2307/4376875. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/4376875.pdf.

 

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