A photo essay on the de-industrialization of Bengal: Real estate SEZs over the ruins of factories

April 3, 2009

The real story behind the much-hyped industrialization of West Bengal is one of continuous de-industrialization, land grab and conversion to real estate.

This has happened extensively over the last few years, with numerous examples like South City, built on the land of Usha factory and Diamond City, built on the lands of Reckitt and Coleman India Ltd. lying in front of everyones eyes.

The latest phase is the setting up of real-estate SEZs, with a software company as a front and luxury apartments as the real thing. Two are coming up at two ends of Kolkata, the Sriram Hitec city in the north, being set up on the extensive wetlands (around 300 acres) adjoining the Hind Motors factory (originally designated for ancillary units) near Uttarpara and the other, Hiland-Bata Integrated city at the huge Batanagar factory of Bata India Ltd. near Budge Budge in the south.

The entire Sriram project is actually illegal, as under the Inland Fisheris Act, wetlands cannot be filled up at all. Also, this hoax of land for ancillary units (which was the main thing in the Singur episode) lies expsoed in the case of Hind Motors. On the one hand agricultural land is being acquired to be converted into industrial land, on the other hand industrial land is converted into real estate. These two simulataneous processes define the neo-liberal industrialization- urbanization process in West Bengal.

Interestingly, Sriram has contracted out the entire process of acquiring, safeguarding and filling up the wetlands to Achhelal, the local strongman and brother of Dilip Yadav, the Trinamool councillor. So, TMC will remain silent on the issue.

A report on the state of industries in the Barackpur-Kanchrapara belt [PDF, Bengali, 1.8 MB] »

Photos of Shriram Hitec city and the destruction of Hind Motors:

abject-poverty-in-villages-around-the-hind-motors-factory-do-industries-bring-prosperity-to-locals.JPG

1. Abject poverty in villages around the Hind Motors factory- do industries bring prosperity to locals

bengal-sriram-hightec-city-the-new-owners-of-the-wetlands.JPG

2. Bengal Sriram Hightec city, the new owners of the wetlands

hind-motors-wetlands-surrounded-by-barbed-wire.JPG

3. Hind Motors wetlands surrounded by barbed wire

lush-paddy-fields-that-have-already-been-bought-up-by-property-sharks.JPG

4. Lush paddy fields that have already been bought up by property sharks

property-of-bengal-sriram.JPG

5. Property of Bengal Sriram

security-cabin-of-bengal-sriram.JPG

6. Security cabin of Bengal Sriram

shut-down-facilities-at-hind-motors.JPG

7. Shut-down facilities at Hind Motors

sriram-hightec-city-has-demarcated-the-area-of-the-wetlands-that-they-will-occupy.JPG

8. Sriram Hightec city has demarcated the area of the wetlands that they will occupy

the-banked-road-for-vehicle-testing-that-is-included-within-the-sez-area.JPG

9. The banked road for vehicle testing that is included within the SEZ area

the-barbed-wire-around-the-wetlands-disrupts-life-of-people-dependent-on-them.JPG

10. The barbed wire around the wetlands disrupts life of people dependent on them

the-car-testing-road-that-is-included-within-the-sez.JPG

11. The car testing road that is included within the SEZ

the-extensive-wetlands-that-will-be-filled-up.JPG

12. The extensive wetlands that will be filled up

the-fragile-ecosystem-on-the-verge-of-exticntion.JPG

13. An ecosystem on the verge of exticntion

the-hind-motors-factory-across-the-wetlands.JPG

14. The Hind Motors factory across the wetlands

water-being-pumped-out-from-the-ponds.JPG

15. Water being pumped out from the ponds

wildlife-in-the-wetlands.JPG

16. Wildlife in the wetlands