Saturday, November 04, 2006

KHETRO Broadsheet 04: Editorial

The new thrust of "global development" seems to have finally arrived with a big bang in West Bengal.

As the capital of the state, Calcutta has entered a phase of resurrection. Of late, the widespread declaration that we are heading towards becoming a 'neo-city' which will be at par with any other major city of the world, is being heard. To achieve that status, Calcutta needs to lure global business investors to the city as well as the state. The city therefore needs a complete facelift to provide the right infrastructure for investors to feel comfortable. With this, money will pour in and soon the city will be elevated to a level which Calcuttans have only dreamed of.

It is now the new dictum of the state government that we should all subscribe to this dream and cheer the way Calcutta is changing. Enthused by this way of thinking, many have responded to the call and joined hands with the government's new "development" programs as active collaborators. Government-private collaboration and privatization of the public sector is the new trend here.

The phenomenal boom in the real estate sector has significantly changed the cityscape, and now seems to be the prime indicator of development here in Calcutta. The city has a glossier look because of these new urban constructions, unfortunately happening mostly through the encroachment of paddy fields and wetlands on the city's fringes, and by closing down factories without caring too much about the economic or environmental impact. What dream are we actually chasing? And what is the price we will eventually pay for its realization?

Being a Calcutta based organization involved with issues related to community culture, ecological existence and media explorations, Khetro cannot avoid critiquing the disastrous changes taking place. We have initiated a study, "The Changing Landscape of Calcutta" to document the transformation of landscape which is happening at a random and reckless pace. Through this study we intend to learn and understand the consequences of these changes in the ecological fabric of Calcutta and offer potential sustainable alternatives.

In tandem with this, another segment we are exploring is the "Transforming Industrial Landscape" which will look at the eroded industrial scenario of Calcutta.

Editorial Collective: Dr. Silanjan Bhattacharya, Patrick S L Ghose, Ranu Ghosh, Nilanjan Bhattacharya, Mrityunjay Chatterjee (Sarai-CSDS, Delhi)

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