Settlements along Tolly's Nullah

history

The 'Tolly's Nullah' got its name from William Tolly who in 1772 de-silted and opened this old channel as a water way connecting the Calcutta Port to the eatern rivers such as Bidyadhari and Matla. This water way became a crucial transportation route between Calcutta and the Eastern Bengal regions. It remained navigable as late as during and after 1947.

Along the stretch of this Nullah going through the southern part of Kolkata, emerged settlements of migrants and also various industrial units such as Garages. The settlers in this area were mostly from the remote areas of South 24 Parganas district, and also settlers from Bangladesh who migrated during partition (1947). The residents of these settlements were granted voter cards, ration cards, electricity and telephone connections, entries in employment exchange list, birth certificates, trade licenses for shops and small workshops etc. by successive governments. But they did not have ‘patta’ document for the lands on which their homes were erected.

These settlements were demolished during 22-27 September 2002, in two phases - phase 1 was the stretch between Garia Main Road and Kudghat CSTC Bus Terminus and the phase 2 was from the Bus Terminus to the railway tracks near the Kalighat Rail Station. The demolitions were done under two rationales - (i) to make way for the over-land Metro route, which was to be constructed upon the canal, running above pillars, and (ii) for revitalisaton and beautification of the Nullah under the Ganga Action Plan.

After demolitions, pillars were built at the middle of the path of the Nullah (the stretch of phase 1) and the Metro track was placed upon it. It was mentioned in the Government’s and the Metro Railways department’s documents that building the pillars would only require 22 feet of space on either bank of the Canal, whereas houses locates as far as 90-100 feet away from the Canal were demolished and the residents evicted. As for revitalisation and beautification is concerned, no project towards that has been taken up till now.

Approximately 1400 families were evicted in this drive. Buildings destroyed included more than 300 shops, including stored inventories. Rs. 2000 was given to some families who 'willingly' left the area.

news clips

  • Times of India, 15th September 2001 - 'RAF Deployed at Tolly's Nullah' external link
  • The Telegraph, 28th September 2001 - 'Last Shanty Razed along Canal Banks' external link
  • Times of India, 28th May 2002 - 'Tolly's Nullah Evictees to get Flats' external link
  • Indian Express, 22nd August 2009 - 'Mamata Flags off Tollygunge-Garia Metro' external link

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contributors

Information contributed by Nagarik Mancha and Shalti Research Group

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