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New Town | The Veiled Hypocrisy - A photo essay by Indranil Das

According to the 2001 census report, the population density of the state of West Bengal in India was 903 / sq. km whereas Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta) was bursting at its seam with a density of staggering 24,760 / sq. km, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The effect was far reaching for the metropolis, taking its toll on the basic amenities like health and hygiene, drainage and sewerage, traffic, water supply and electricity among other parameters. New Town, the expansion of the city on its north - eastern fringes, was inevitable and unavoidable to contain the population growth which has been registered at 4.1%, still the lowest among million-plus cities in India. New Town is considered as one of the fastest growing planned new cities in India. It is poised to be the industrial hub of West Bengal. But it comes at a serious cost. It contained the wet lands, cultivable lands and fisheries.

Making of a city has its uncanny resemblance to the founding of a civilization and has history shown from time to time a civilization goes through the phases of development, stability and flourish and ultimately decay and destruction. The project intends to show the callousness of the human race towards the already depleting natural resources and last ditch attempts to keep mankind alive and running. Development is a vicious cycle. The project will document the knee-jerk reaction we are seeing the world over in the name of development. As a documentarian I will like to put forward a simple question to the audience: New townships are built to contain the ever bludgeoning human population at a certain price. Then what? What will happen when the new townships are outgrown? What is when the finite quantity of natural resources is spent?

The days we are in calls for a balanced outlook. While it is a responsibility to accommodate the human population and provide them with basic amenities to lead a life, the difference between the rich and poor is reaching an extreme polarity. Development projects are being carried out by the government and the corporate behemoths. But this results in displacement of numerous poor, use of the cultivable lands and ecologically important wet lands. Families residing in these tracts of land earmarked for development projects with a daily income of $2 will not be able afford in any way an apartment that is being built in a township which comes at a cost of $4-6 / square feet. A family of four cannot stay at half square feet of plot even if they fully invest their $2 of daily income. And they are forced to hand over their owned land too for a paltry compensation.

Development is a double edged sword in developing nations like India where the distinction between democracy and hypocrisy gets blurred. The contrast between the rich and the poor reaches an extreme polarity and lays foundations for volatile and unpredictable situations, both political and social.

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Work in full swing, New Town is all poised to be the commercial, residential and entertainment hub of West Bengal. It comes at a serious cost though. The area contains acres of cultivable land and water bodies which are priceless for the socio-economic structure of the region and the ecosystem. December 2009. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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New Town contains water bodies which are invaluable for the socio-economic structure of the region as well as the ecosystem. Ketab Ali, 60, a villager residing just off New Town, fishes for his livelihood. This boat belongs to Ali. February 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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The area earmarked for New Town contains acres of cultivable land and water bodies which are invaluable for the socio-economic structure of the region as well as the ecosystem. December 2009. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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Fog envelops New Town. With limited number of traffic signals installed as of now, driving becomes hazardous in these conditions, often leading to fatal accidents. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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High atop a construction site a worker, Radheysham Das, 33 at work. Workers are provided with bare minimum protective gear and exposes them to often - fatal working conditions. December 2009. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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Faisal, 25 (L) and Robiul, 27, labourers from Murshidabad district at a bitumen production and stone crushing unit which caters to road construction at New Town. March 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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Labourers carrying mortar mixture to a construction site, New Town. March 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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Jamirul (L) and Kalim are workers at a bitumen production and stone crushing unit. They are often exposed to hazardous working environment with paltry remunerations. February 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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Outstation workers from the adjoining districts of Kolkata and neighbouring states make New Town their temporary homes with minimum luxuries. Visiting families rarely happen, mostly once or twice a year. They are often the sole bread winner for their family. January 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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The Ali family and neighbours during their leisure time. The family has lost most of its owned cultivable land to the construction sites. Ali now works as a part-time construction material supplier. March 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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The top of a road side tea stall is made of scrapped vinyl advertisement flex of a high rise building at New Town. February 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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Boundary wall of Variable Energy Cyclotron Project. New Town is poised to become a commercial, residential and entertainment hub of the state of West Bengal, India. March 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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Twisted advertisement hoarding dots the New Town skyline. New Town is attracting corporate houses and real estate companies for investment. January 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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New Town is already flooded with suave advertisement hoardings. It is poised to be the commercial, residential and entertainment hub of the state of West Bengal. It is one of the costliest properties in the country. December 2009. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das


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At pre-dawn hour, the illumination of a church glows bright in New Town. Population in this newly constructed township is all set to multiply. January 2010. New Town, Kolkata. Photo © Indranil Das

Photos & text by Indranil Das. All Rights Reserved

About Indranil Das

Indranil Das is a self-taught and independent photojournalist, based in Kolkata, India. He works on long term projects on socio-economic issues. Full version of this ongoing photo essay can be viewed at www.flickr.com/photos/indranildas



6 comments:

  1. Will says

    Nice work, dude.


    Anonymous says

    you had a great idea documenting this! very well done!


    Anonymous says

    The fears of urbanization are often grossly exaggerated by many social science theorists. They bring up questions of ecology, environment, oppression, land acquistion, exploitation etc to often give a "solid" base to this fear. But let's think of urbanization in a different way. Kolkata urban agglomeration has just 3% land area of West Bengal but houses nearly 20% of the population. Now what if West Bengal had five Kolkatas? That would be 15% of the land area taking care of nearly 100% of the population. There would be 85% land free to be farmed to the heart's content. Unfortunately instead of promoting urbanization as a way to move out of poverty, our intellectuals are stuck in Gandhian/socialist philosophy where making jams and jellies in mud huts is the only hope of salvation they can promise to the poor. New Town Kolkata is obviously built on fertile land. It will result in many lakes and ponds to be filled. Some farmers will obviously lose their land resources. But it will also house a million residents (a majority will be middle class). There is no hypcrisy in that. It is an open book. That is how development happens. The aim should be however to minimize the negative impacts of development. Not to oppose it in couched socialist theories.


    jpfoto says

    Good Work. Thank You.


    Sunil Singh says

    This project by Indranil in no way detracts from what is a realistic portrayal of life in Urban India.

    Sunil Singh.
    Jhb < RSA


    سما احمد says

    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي دومة الجندل
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي سيهات
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض إلي البدائع
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي بيشة
    شركة شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض إلي ثول
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض إلي حقل
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض إلي بدر
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي بارق
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي المخواة
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي النعيرية
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي النماص
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي صفوي
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي أملج
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي بني مالك
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي مهد الذهب
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي طريف
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي الليث
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي الجموم
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي خليص
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي الشرقية
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي القنفدة
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي ضباء
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي رفايع الجمش
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي الاردن
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي عمان
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي ابو عريش
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي البكيرية
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي الشرقية
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي تثليث
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الي سبت العلايا


6 comments so far. What do you think?