ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Calcutta Diary

FOR one returning to this city after tin interval of almost six years, the initial emotion is one of bafflement. There is scarcely much change either in the contours or in the outlying landscape. The buildings look gloomier; with each successive year, the quality of maintenance has gone down further. All around, grey remains the overwhelming colour, as it was even in the past. The sense of decay is also fairly pervasive, despite multi-storied co-operative apartments popping up here and there. A certain stirring following the induction of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority is there; but, till now, its impact has not assumed the form of a qualitative leap. The major emphasis in the CMDA's activities is on expanding water supply and sewerage and on road improvement. Inevitably, a lot of bulldozing and burrowing is taking place everywhere. A hiatus is however fast developing: the CMDA's rate of chewing and rate of swallowing, it is obvious, are disequilibrated. In introductory courses on growth economics, one sometimes comes across an explanation of the inordinately high magnitude of the capital-output ratio in Latin American economies: a whole range of projects are taken on hand simultaneously; given the gap in technical talent and managerial ability, the process of completion for each of these projects gets elongated as a result, some are even abandoned in midstream; final output therefore tends to be low in relation to aggregate investment. Something similar, it seems, is occurring in Calcutta. Over large areas of the city, one is told, roads were dug up during April-May for laying bigger and better water and sewerage pipes; but the work could not be completed before the middle of June, the monsoon was threatening to break over the city any day, the prospect of large-scale water-logging turned the authorities numb with panic, many of the holes were therefore hastily filled back. Since the job of pipe-laying remains unfinished, there will presumably be a repetition of the entire; process from October, re-digging to be followed by re-filling.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Back to Top