CHAPTER : BACKGROUND.

1.0.    Introduction.

1.1.    The district of Dakshin Dinajpur has been included under the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana during the current financial year, viz, 2004 – 2005. The Yojana envisages the Backward Districts Initiative and aims at putting in place programmes and schemes with the joint efforts of the Central and the State Governments for removing the barriers to growth, accelerate the development process and improve the quality of the life of the people of the district. The main emphasis of the RSVY is on focused development programmes for backward areas which would help reduce imbalances and speed up all-round development.

1.2.    Dakshin Dinajpur district is considered to be a backward district in the State of West Bengal. The backwardness of the district is mainly because of the lack of connectivity with the capital of the State, viz, Kolkata and its geographical location. The district has only one State Highway linking it with the rest of the State. No National Highway passes through the district excepting a stretch of approximately 3 Kilometres in Harirampur Block. There is no railway connectivity also in the district. The new railway link from Eklakhi (on Malda–New Jalpaiguri railway route) to Balurghat has just been laid and is expected to be operational very soon. There is also an airstrip in Balurghat and air services between Balurghat and Kolkata was in commission till the early nineteen eighties. Since then, the airstrip has not been used.

1.3.    The district is bounded on three sides by the Indo – Bangladesh international border (approx. 252 km.). Six of the district's eight Blocks have borders with Banglaldesh. The district was a part of Dinajpur district, biggest district in undivided Bengal, before the Independence of India. The partition has taken its toll and the major part of the district is now in Bangladesh. After partition and Independence the district came to be known as West Dinajpur. The district had borders with Bangladesh in the north and eastern side. Malda district was in the south and Bihar bordered the district's western fringe. Areas from Bihar were added to the district in 1956. The West Dinajpur district was bifurcated into two districts, viz, Uttar Dinajpur and Dakshin Dinajpur w.e.f. 01.04.1992.

2.0.    Location particularly in terms of access to capital city and other large consumption centers.

2.1.    The district is located in a far corner of the state –– approximately 440 km. from the state capital Kolkata. The other large consumption center, viz, Siliguri is situated at about 305 km. from the district headquarter Balurghat. The access to the capital city is a problem for the district. Road connectivity is the only form of access till this day. The State Highway (110 km.) emerging from Gazole in Malda district on National Highway , to Hili is the only link. The upgradation of the said state highway has been taken up under West Bengal Corridor Development Project with loan funding from the Asian Development Bank. The highway is being converted to a 4 – lane road and the upgradation work will be completed by February, 2007. The upgradation of the state highway will contribute to economic resurgence of the district.

2.2.    Hili, a bordering block headquarter town, was a bustling town before partition. The major part of the town is now in Bangladesh. Hili was an important railway junction in pre-partition and pre-Independence days. The journey to Kolkata from Hili (26 km from Balurghat, the district headquarter of Dakshin Dinajpur ) was only 8 (eight) hours prior to 1947. The railway station along with the railway line now falls within Banglaldesh. The partition has economically crippled the district. New railway link has now been established in the district after 57 years of Independence. The commercial operation of trains (which is scheduled soon) will improve connectivity with the capital city (Kolkata) and the other large consumption center (Siliguri). The further extension of the railway link to Hili will lead to further economic growth of the district. Hili is already the second largest land custom station / land port in the state. Railway connectivity to Hili will help in increase in exports volumes through this land port. The economic activities of the district will receive a boost consequently.

2.3.    The district has a long tradition of administrative management. The administrative structure dates back even to the distant past. Under successive dynasties this administrative structure was nurtured and strengthened. The Palas and the Senas, the great ruling dynastics of Bengal, ruled this region. During the time of the Mughols, Dinajpur was one of their parganas and zamindary system of administration flourished during the period. The modern and structured administrative system first came into being during the days of British Rulers. As already stated that Dinajpur was the biggest administrative district of undivided Bengal. Balurghat, the present headquarter of Dakshin Dinajpur, was a sub-divisional headquarter during pre-Independence days. Thus, the district is a part of long administrative traditions. The people of the district are in general identified with this administrative tradition. This is one of the prime reasons that the people of the district are law-abiding and inspite of being a bordering district, it is generally free from any major border related law and order problem.

Continue.......