Railways’ Sleeper Demand and Deforestation

  • Pallavi V. Das


The second half of the nineteenth century is often referred to as the period of high imperialism in colonial India. As suggested in the previous chapter, this period had at least two characteristics. First, trade became Britain’s dominant mode of exploiting India’s resources. Second, the colonial state increasingly became interventionist. It particularly intervened to create conditions for “economic development” in order to increase agricultural exports from India to serve Britain’s needs. This economic intervention was partly expressed in the form of the state’s promotion of infrastructure projects such as the railways. Indeed, railways expanded so rapidly that by the end of the century, India had the largest and most advanced railway network among Britain’s colonies.1


Forest Department Railway Line Railway Company Colonial State Hill Forest 
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© Pallavi V. Das 2015

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