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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: June 2012

29 - Assessment and Dynamics of Urban Growth in the City of Kolkata

from V - Indian Social Geography: City and State Context


The world has seen, and is still seeing the rapid development and spread of urban areas. Cities and towns have sprouted up every where around the globe. Villages are transforming into towns and towns into cities, attracting more and more people, and adding to urban expansion. Population increase and industrialization are the key factor behind such a phenomenal change in spatial structure.

India, the second most populated country in the world, has experienced large-scale development in and around its urban areas. The city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta until 2001) in eastern India, the focus herein, has being aggressively multiplying in size over the last three decades. However, the rea population explosion took place between 1940 and 1950, during the Indian independence phase, although growth as such is still continuing (Chakraborty, 1990).

Closely associated with the morphology of any city are its past and present populations that have adhered to certain social and economic customs and followed distinctive occupations (Dutt et al., 1989, 151) Kolkata was the first major city developed by the British East India Company in the early 1700s. The East India Company built their first fortified construction, Fort William, to protect them from the other colonia aspirants. It was around this same fortified structure that the city of Kolkata grew and nurtured itself. It was a garrison town first, then the Company's town, next a provincial city, and later the headquarters of the British India government (National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO), 1996).

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