Advertisement

Tamed Interventions

  • Jenia MukherjeeEmail author
Chapter
  • 12 Downloads
Part of the Exploring Urban Change in South Asia book series (EUCS)

Abstract

This chapter exposes readers to the more complex evolution of the urban, comprising tangled interactions between urban-environmental and technical-social dimensions. Applying D’Souza’s concept of “colonial hydrology” to Kolkata, it reveals how urban hydraulic projects were geared towards profits on investments through a series of tamed interventions facilitating the evolution of networked infrastructures that performed parallel functions of trade-transportation and drainage-sewerage-sanitation. Using the perspective of urban political ecology of networked infrastructures to better understand colonial urban environmental history, this chapter explores debates and discussions surrounding various plans and designs relating to canal excavation and marsh reclamation among the different wings of the government, including the Military Board, the Corporation, the Irrigation and Waterways Department, the Public Works Department, and different committees appointed by the government. Consulting administrative and revenue records between the 1770 s and 1920 s, the chapter weaves the complex web of city, nature, and technological history, reflecting on the colonial encounter with nature and native in a volatile, vulnerable, uncertain, “unhygienic,” and “unruly” fluid scape.

Keywords

Kolkata Canals Bidyadhari Kulti Adi ganga Salt water marshes 

References

  1. Addams-Williams, C. (1919). History of the rivers in the Gangetic Delta, 1750–1918. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bandopadhyay, H. (2018). History of canals in Bengal. Kolkata: Doshor Publication.Google Scholar
  3. Bandopadhyay, S. (1996). Location of the Adi Ganga paleochannel, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal: A review. Geographical Review of India, 58(2), 93–109.Google Scholar
  4. Bhattacharyya, D. (2018). Empire and ecology in the Bengal Delta: The making of Calcutta. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biswas, K. (1998). Rivers of Bengal: A compilation. Calcutta: West Bengal District Gazetteers.Google Scholar
  6. Bose, P. C. (1947). An appreciation of the improvement of drainage of the city of Calcutta. In Report of the committee to enquire into the drainage condition of Calcutta and adjoining areas, 1945. Calcutta: Bengal Government Press.Google Scholar
  7. Calcutta Corporation. (1946). Index Corporation of Calcutta selection of records on Dr. Dey’s Kulti Outfall Scheme 1930–1945. Calcutta: Calcutta Corporation.Google Scholar
  8. Castonguay, S. (2017). Rivers, industrial cities, and hinterland production in Quebec in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In M. Knoll, U. Lübken, & D. Schott (Eds.), Rivers lost, rivers gained: Rethinking city–river relations. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  9. Chattopadhyay, H. (1990). From marsh to township east of Kolkata: A tale of fresh water lake and salt lake township. Kolkata: K.P. Bagchi & Company.Google Scholar
  10. Chattopadhyay, S. (2006). Representing Calcutta: Modernity, nationalism, and the colonial uncanny. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Dasgupta, A. (2003). Drainage disposal of the metropolis of Kolkata & its environs. Bengal. Bengal: Irrigation and Waterways Department.Google Scholar
  12. D’Souza, R. (2002). Colonialism, capitalism and nature: Debating the origins of Mahanadi Delta’s hydraulic crisis (1803–1928). Economic and Political Weekly, 37(13), 1261–1272.Google Scholar
  13. D’Souza, R. (2003). Damming the Mahanadi River: The emergence of Multi-Purpose River Valley Development in India (1943–46). Indian Economic and Social History Review, 40(1), 81–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. D’Souza, R. (2006a). Drowned and dammed: Colonial capitalism and flood control in Eastern India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. D’Souza, R. (2006b). Water in British India: The making of a “colonial hydrology”. History Compass, 4(4), 621–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. D’Souza, R. (2009). River as resource and land to own: The great hydraulic transition in Eastern India. Asian Environments Shaping the World: Conceptions of Nature and Environmental Practices. Singapore.Google Scholar
  17. Foster, John B. (1999). Marx’s theory of metabolic rift: Classical foundations for environmental sociology. American Journal of Sociology, 105(2), 366–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foster, John B. (2000). Marx’s ecology: Materialism and nature. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  19. Ghosh, D. (2017). The trash diggers. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gillis, J., & Torma, F. (2015). Fluid frontiers: New currents in marine environmental history. Cambridge: The White Horse Press.Google Scholar
  21. Gilmartin, D. (1994). Scientific empire and imperial science: Colonialism and irrigation technology in the Indus Basin. Journal of Asian Studies, 53(4), 1127–1148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goode, S. (1916). Municipal Calcutta: Its institutions in their origin and growth. Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable Printers.Google Scholar
  23. Hunter, W. (1875). A statistical account of Bengal: 24 Parganas, vol. I: Districts of the 24 Parganas and Sundarbans. London: Trubner & Co.Google Scholar
  24. Inglis, W. (1909). The canals and flood banks of Bengal. Bengal: Bengal Secretariat Press.Google Scholar
  25. I&WD (Irrigation and Waterways Department). (1947). Report of the Committee to Enquire into the Drainage Condition of Calcutta and Adjoining Areas 1945. Bengal: Bengal Government Press.Google Scholar
  26. Klingensmith, D. (2007). One valley and a thousand”: Dams, nationalism, and development. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Knoll, M., Lübken, U., & Schott, D. (Eds.). (2017). Rivers lost, rivers gained: Rethinking city–river relations. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lafaye de Micheaux, F., Mukherjee, J., & Kull, C. (2018). When hydrosociality encounters sediments: Transformed lives and livelihoods in the lower basin of the Ganges River. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 1(4), 641–663.Google Scholar
  29. Lahiri-Dutt, K. (2014). Beyond the water-land binary in geography: Water/lands of Bengal re-visioning hybridity. ACME International Journal of Critical Geography, 13(3), 505–529.Google Scholar
  30. Martin, M. (1836). The despatches, minutes, and correspondence of the Marquess Wellesley, K.G. during his administration in India. London: W.H. Allen and Co.Google Scholar
  31. Melosi, M. (2000). The sanitary city: Urban infrastructures in America from colonial times to the present. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Mishra, D. K. (1997). The Bihar flood story. Economic and Political Weekly, 32(1), 2206–2217.Google Scholar
  33. Mishra, D. K. (2008). Trapped between the devil and the deep waters—Story of Bihar’s Kosi River. Delhi: People’s Science Institute and SANDRP.Google Scholar
  34. Morris, C. (2012). The big muddy: An environmental history of the Mississippi and its peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Mosse, D. (1997). The symbolic making of a common property resource: History, ecology and locality in a tank-irrigated landscape in South India. Development and Change, 28(3), 467–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mosse, D. (1999). Colonial and contemporary ideologies of “community management”: The case of tank irrigation development in South India. Modern Asian Studies, 33(2), 303–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mosse, D. (2003). The rule of water: Statecraft, ecology, and collective action in South India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Mukherjee, J. (2015). Beyond the urban: Rethinking urban ecology using Kolkata as a case study. International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development, 7(2), 131–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mukherjee, J. (2016). The Adi Ganga: A forgotten river in Bengal. Economic and Political Weekly, 51(8).Google Scholar
  40. Mukherjee, J. (2018). From hydrology to hydrosociality: Historiography of waters in India. In J. Caradonna (Ed.), Routledge handbook of the history of sustainability. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Murphey, R. (1964). The city in the swamp: Aspects of the site and early growth of Calcutta. Geographical Journal, 130(2), 241–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. O’Malley, L. S. S. (1914). Bengal District Gazetteers: 24 Parganas. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot.Google Scholar
  43. Pande, I. (2010). Medicine, race and liberalism in British Bengal: Symptoms of Empire. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Poussou, J. P. (2014). Towards a definition of town’s areas of influence and domination: The large hinterlands of French ports and their development from the middle of the 17th century to the end of the 18th century. In M. Pauly & M. Scheutz (Eds.), Cities and their spaces: Concepts and their use in Europe. Böhlau: Cologne.Google Scholar
  45. Rao, E. (2011). Taming “liquid gold” and dam technology: A study of the Godavari anicut. In D. Kumar, V. Damodaran, & R. D’Souza (Eds.), The British Empire and the natural world: Environmental encounters in South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Reuss, M. (2008). Seeing like an engineer: Water projects and the mediation of the incommensurable. Technology and Culture, 49(3), 531–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schlichting, K. M. (2019). New York recentered: Building the metropolis from the shore. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schmitthenner, P. (2011). Colonial hydraulic projects in South India: Environmental and cultural legacy. In D. Kumar, V. Damodaran, & R. D’Souza (Eds.), The British Empire and the natural world: Environmental encounters in South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Schott, D. (2004). Urban environmental history: Water lessons are there to be learnt? Boreal Environment Research, 9, 519–528.Google Scholar
  50. Shah, E. (2008). Telling otherwise: A historical anthropology of tank irrigation technology in South India. Technology and Culture, 49(3), 652–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shah, E. (2012). Seeing like a subaltern: Historical ethnography of pre-modern and modern tank irrigation technology in Karnataka. India. Water Alternatives, 5(2), 507–538.Google Scholar
  52. Singh, P. (2008). The colonial state, zamindars and the politics of flood control in North Bihar (1850–1945). Indian Economic and Social History Review, 45(2), 239–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Singh, P. (2011). Flood control for North Bihar: An environmental history from the “ground-level” (1850–1954). In D. Kumar, V. Damodaran, & R. D’Souza (Eds.), The British Empire and the natural world: Environmental encounters in South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Smith, D. (1869). Report on the drainage and conservancy of Calcutta. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press.Google Scholar
  55. Stone, I. (1984). Canal irrigation in British India: Perspectives on technological change in a peasant economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Strong, F. (1837). Extracts from the topography and vital statistics of Calcutta. Calcutta: Sanders, Comes & Co.Google Scholar
  57. Swyngedouw, E., & Kaika, M. (2000). The environment of the city or urbanization of nature. In G. Bridge & S. Watson (Eds.), A companion to the city. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  58. Swyngedouw, E., & Kaika, M. (2014). Urban political ecology. Great promises, deadlock … and new beginnings? Documents d’Anàlisi Geogràfica, 60(3), 459–481.Google Scholar
  59. Tarr, J. (1996). The search for the ultimate sink: Urban pollution in historical perspective. Akron, OH: University of Akron.Google Scholar
  60. Weil, B. (2006). The rivers come: Colonial flood control and knowledge systems in the Indus Basin, 1840 s–1930s. Environment and History, 12(1), 3–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Whitcombe, E. (1972). Agrarian conditions in Northern India: The United Provinces under the British Rule, 1860–1900 (Vol. 1). Berkeley: California University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Willcocks, W. (1930). Lectures on the ancient system of irrigation in Bengal. Calcutta: University of Calcutta.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesIndian Institute of Technology KharagpurKharagpurIndia

Personalised recommendations