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Location and Administrative set up

Topography
      Climate
River System
Forests
Natural Calamities and Embankment problems in the Sundarbans




















Location and Administrative set up

The district of South 24 Parganas was created on the first day of March 1986 by bifurcating the erstwhile 24 Parganas district. This South 24 Parganas district, consisting of the Alipore (Sadar) sub division and the Diamond Harbour sub division of the undivided 24 Parganas district, belongs to the Southern extremity of West Bengal. The district lies between 2020' North and 2206' North latitudes; 8820' East and 8816' East longitudes with a total area of 9960 square kilometer. The district is bounded by North 24 Parganas and Kolkata districts in the Northern side. The eastern side is partly bounded by the North 24 Parganas district and partly by Bangladesh. The Bay of Bengal marks the Southern boundary of the district and in the western side the river Hooghly flows from north to south separating the district from the Howrah and Purba Medinipur districts. At present, the district is divided into 5 sub divisions- Alipore (Sadar), Baruipur, Canning, Kakdwip and Diamond Harbour. The rural part of the district has 29 community development blocks (equivalently 29 panchayat samitis) and 312 gram panchayats. This rural areas of the district has 2139 revenue mouzas covering 3470 villages. The urban part of the district is constituted by 23 urban charges spreading over 7 municipalities. In totality there are 150 wards under the jurisdiction of these 7 municipalities. 

The rural part of the district is divided into two parts, viz., the Sundarbans in the south and the non-Sundarbans in the north. The Dampier Hedges Line marks the upper boundary of the Sundarbans. The number of blocks belonging to the Sundarbans and the non- Sundarbans areas are 13 and 16 respectively. The Sundarbans area covers a reserve forest with an area of 678.5 hectare. The Sundarbans area also contains 37 islands.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topography

The district, located in the delta region of the state, is a part of one vast plane, sloping very gently towards the sea. The Sundarbans consists of low flat alluvial plains in the active delta region. A vast part of the Sundarbans has been reclaimed. The northern plains of the Sundarbans have settled long ago. Conversely, the settlements in the southern part are of recent origin. Southern settlements are more dispersed than those in the north. At the extreme south there is a 150 km. lengthy coastline which marks the outer boundary of India.

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climate

The climate of the district is tropical. The average annual rainfall in the district is 1661.6 mm. Except in winter, the district experiences hot summer with high humidity all the year round. The average temperature varies from 36.3 C max. to 13.6 C min. The district is exposed to storms and depressions from the Bay of Bengal in May and in the post. monsoon season (early October). Thunderstorm is often associated with the southwest monsoon sail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River System 

The headless distributaries of the Ganga constitute the heart of the river system of the district. The main rivers are Hooghly, Vidyadhari and Piyali. Other important rivers are Matla, Thakuran, Mridangabhanga and Saptamukhi. The Hooghly river, marking the western boundary of the district, meets the Bay of Bengal with a breadth of 30 km. at the confluence. This navigable river, though deteriorating, provides a very important route for maritime commerce in India. A network of big tidal rivers like Thakuran, Mridangabhanga and Saptamukhi intersects the southern part of the district. The estuaries of these rivers penetrate far inlands, which serve as waterways. The district is studded with marshes and swamps called bills. Many of the marshes serve as veris for pisciculture and the khals as navigable waterways in otherwise impenetrable forests. Large areas of marshland in the sundarbans have been declaimed and brought under tillage.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forests 

There are two types of forests in the district saltwater heritiera and low mangrove. Presently, almost the entire forest area is under the reserve forests that coustitute the forest area of the Sundarbans. There are three sanctuaries in the Sundarbans, viz., Sajnekhali, Lothian Island and Holliday Island. The total expanse of the Sundarbans is about 2.05 million hectare out of which 0.79 million-hectare lie in the undivided district of 24 Parganas. Of this, only 0.42 million hectares are under the reserve forests including about 0.13 million hectares covered by creeks and channels. The forest area under the Sudarbans within the jurisdiction of South 24 Parganas district is 4264 square km. The typical trees in the Sundarbans are Gengwa, Passur, Keora and Sundari. The Sundari trees, after which the region gets its name, are now scarce. Honey, golpata, hetal leaves and timber and firewood constitute the main item of forest produce.The Sundarbans forests are inhabited by early 50 species and sub-species of mammals. Spotted dear, wild pig, wild boar, tiger (specifically the world famous Royal Bengal Tiger) and leopard are some of the important mammals available in the Sundarbans. According to the information available from the District Gazetteer, 230 species of birds are accounted from the district. In the Sundarbans, there exists a man-eating species of crocodile technically termed as estuarine. The no. of species of turtles, lizards snakes are 7,13 and 17 respectively. The rivers are very rich in fish fauna. There are 55 and 31 species of marine and freshwater fishes in the district.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Calamities and Embankment problems in the Sundarbans 

The geographical location of the Sundarbans area makes it prone to natural calamities such as cyclones, thunderstorms with occasional hail and floods. The people of the Sundarbans, particularly those in the islands, live under a constant threat of flood and cyclones, which severely affect the habitation and damage the existing inadequate communication facilities. The massive dependence on water transport system along with inadequate landing facilities practically makes the area inaccessible during the rains.

 

The total length of embankments in the district is more than 63,400 kms. There are two types of embankments which help to sustain life in the inhabited areas the boundary bunds and the cross bunds. Boundary bunds are constructed to keep the saline water of nearby river away from agricultural and homestead lands. The purpose of constructing cross bunds is to connect one settlement with the other particularly in the low-lying areas. But the floods due to high tidal bores often wash away much of the embankments, which are already weakened and broken by earlier cyclonic storms. This poor condition of embankments creates massive distress for the people residing in the riverside areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Population 

According to Census 2001, the district has a population of 69,09,015 of which 35,64,241 are male and 33,44,474 are female, giving a sex ratio of 938 (number of females per 1000 males). The district ranks 4th (behind the erstwhile Medinipore, North 24 Parganas, Bardhaman) among the 18 districts of the state in terms of population size. But the area of the district is 9960 sqkm.,  which is ranked 2nd (after the erstwhile Medinipur district, in fact after the division of Medinipur, South 24 Parganas is the largest district in the state). The district, covering 11.22 percent of the state area, have 8.61 per cent of the state population. The population density of the district is 694 (population per square km.), which is very lower than the state average of 904. The district ranks11th in terms of population density among the 18 districts of the state. Out of the total population of 6909015, 5819285 numbers of people live in the rural areas (84.23%) and 1089730 numbers of people live in the urban area (15.77%). The decadal population growth (1991-2001) of the district is 20.89 percent compared to a state average of 17.84 percent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literacy Rate 

Increase in the literacy rate is a major contribution to any human development process anywhere in the world. And with respect to achievement of literacy the district is slightly better placed than the overall state achievement level. The literacy rate of the district is 70.16 which is slightly better than the state rate of 69.22. The male literacy rate of the district is 79.89 (state average is 77.58) and the female literacy rate of the district is 59.73 (state average is 60.22). One point that should be mentioned here is that the literacy campaign in the district in the last decade (1991-2001) has achieved a remarkable success as the district literacy rate has increased by more than 15% (from 55.10 in 1991 to 70.16 in 2001) compared to a state increase of just 11.52% (from 57.70 in 1991 to 69.22 in 2001).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workforce 

According to the latest available figure of Census 1991, 26.09 percent of total population are engaged in the workforce as main workers (i.e., having work with a minimum of 183 days in a year). 2.20 percent of the total population are engaged in the workforce as marginal workers (i.e., having work in less than 183 days in a year). The rest of the population (71.71%) are non-workers. Hence the total workforce constitute 28.29 percent (26.09 + 2.20) of the total population. out of these total workforce 25.60 percent are cultivators and 27.50 percent are agricultural labourers. Hence the agricultural sector constitute 53.10 percent of the total workforce of the district.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agriculture 

About 53 percent of the working population is directly dependent on agriculture. A sizable part of the population is also engaged in fishery. According to the information obtained from the Principal Agricultural Office of south 24 Parganas district (Annual Action Plan on agriculture 2000-2001) the total cultivable area is 403906 hectares. The net cropped area is 398073 hectare while the gross cropped area is 553322 hectare. Therefore the cropping intensity is 139%. The mono-cropping pattern of cultivation is followed largely because of poor irrigation facilities and high soil salinity.  Although rice is the principal crop, cultivation of other cash crops such as cereals, oilseeds, watermelons and other fruits and vegetables is steadily on the rise. Marginal farmers own 64 per cent of agricultural holdings, while small farmers own another 20 per cent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Industry 

Despite its proximity to Kolkata, the district has not developed industrially. Except for the Budge Budge stretch and Metiabruz area, adjacent to Thakurpukur Mahestala block, there are no major industrial areas. However, some industries have come up in the Falta export-processing zone. Also CESC has taken up a 500 MW thermal power plant project at Pujali. A bottling plant at Budge Budge and a leather complex in Bhangore has started working. The Budge Budge stretch has five jute mills on the banks of the Ganga and the famous Bata shoe factory. The area is also enriched with some oil reserves. Some small and medium factories are located in Mahestala and Birlapur, while others are situated along the Garia-Baruipur Road, Diamond Harbour Road and Thakurpukur-Bakrahat Road. According to the information obtained from the District Statistical handbook [24 Parganas South, 1999 & 2000 (Combined)], the number of registered working factories in the district in 1999 is 5486 employing 405878 no. of people. And the number of small industrial establishments (registered with the Directorate of Cottage and Small Scale Industries) in 2000 is 15502 employing 121370 no. of people.