Calcutta , now Kolkata, was established in 1960 born out of a factory built by the East India Company. In 1927, a municipal corporation for Calcutta, headed by a Mayor was established. Between 1774 and 1911, it was officially the capital of British Empire in India. In the later half of the nineteenth century, a filtered water supply, underground drainage, a network of roads, and other improvements were planned and built. Up to independence in 1947, Calcutta was the premier industrial centre and largest port in India. Following independence and the loss of the hinterland that had provided raw materials and workers to its prominent manufacturing industries, Calcutta’s relative importance as an industrial base declined.The population of Calcutta Metropolitan District (CMD) was calculated to be more than 10 million in 1981; that of the Calcutta Metropolitan Corporation (CMC0 area was 3.3 million. At that time, the total urban population of India was approximately 160 million, thus some 6% of urban dwellers in India were resident of CMC.
Kolkata is slowest growing metropolis in India, yet it continues to add over 2,00,000 persons to its population in spite of continuing deficiencies in environment. About 7.8 million people live on the east bank of Hooghly river. This includes the 3.3 million people living in the CMC administrative area. The west bank population is about 2.2 million and is concentrated mainly in the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) and Bally municipality opposite the CMC.
Kolkata Contains almost 15 million people. It is one of India’s largest and most rapidly growing cities.The Hooghly River is near Kolkata, rather it is a life line to the city. Kolkata , with time has grown into a giant urban system and many problems crept up with time.
The Unplanned Development of Shanty Towns
Most people live in bustees (shanty towns).These bustees contain more than 4 million people.Bustees are unplanned, homes are packed closely together. Makeshift homes are made of wood, straw or even fattened metal boxes or barrels.Bustee dwellers are squatters – they do not own the land that their homes are built on.
Most ‘pavement people’ haven no clean water. Kolkatais strugling with water supply.
Over time the city population has increased manifolds. One of the direct impact of this rapid population growth is the increase in water demand of the city. Most of the water distributed within the city is extracted from Hooghly river. The city is likely to face a water crisis problem in future. Adding to this is the problem of lowering of groundwater table at alarming rate and presence of contaminants in groundwater in some areas. .
Open sewer run through the city, and this endangers people’s health.
According to a survey, Kolkata, a major tourist magnet, has been ranked worst in terms of sanitation facilities for tourists, according to a survey.About 74 per cent of the total respondents placed Kolkata on the top of the list of tourist locations which require upgrading of sanitary restroom facilities followed by Mumbai with 72 per cent.
Bustee schools are poorly built, badly equipped and very short of money. Most children do not attend school. It is a warning sign for future. A proper infrastructure push is needed.
Various elements impose high costs of acquiring education. Income acts as a major deterrent among many families and has a direct negative impact on the enrolments. Girl’s enrolment is very low due to various factors. Increasing the amount of budgetary allocations on primary education is very important .
Public Transport:Remodelling is Needed
It is generally very poor. Buses are old and overcrowded. It is overburdened.The remodeling of the existing transport links and laying down of the new ones will facilitate the movement of bulky goods like jute, tea, coal and other minerals along with the fish. The reviving of water transport may release the extra burden on railways and roads. The swampy chunks in the south east and south west Rarh lack adequate road and railway facilities. The laying down of additional lines will help improving the conditions and in developing agro-industries there. The seasonal roads in Duar hamper the movement of tea. The modernization and through connection will maintain regular flow of tea. Being a perishable item, tea requires quick transit and adequate warehousing.
A truly holistic approach to infrastructure requires stepping away from a silo/sector-based approach and understanding that infrastructure is made up of not just physical things or assets, but consists of three major parts: assets, knowledge, and institutions.
Some Thoughts on Urban Planning in Kolkata