Business and Economy in BardhamanThe economy of Bardhaman is based on both industries as well as on agriculture. Around 52 per cent of the economy of the district of Bardhaman is based on agriculture. Apart from that, there are also a number of industries dealing in coal, steel and other products which make up the rest of the 48 percent of the economy of the district providing a means of employment to a large number of people living here.
There is a rich and multifarious diversity in the economy of the district of Bardhaman as can be evidenced by the number of people employed in agriculture, industries and other non-agricultural industries, making the district one of the most prosperous districts in the state of West Bengal. Since the soil in the district is very fertile and suitable for cultivation, more than half of the population in the district is engaged in agriculture and its related activities.
Agriculture in Bardhaman
The geographical position of the district of Bardhaman is also a major factor in its growth in the agricultural sector as the three major rivers flowing through the state of West Bengal, namely, the Ajay, the Bhagirathi and the Hooghly rivers flow through the district of Bardhaman as well, depositing alluvial soil in the whole expanse of the district making it extremely fertile and suitable for growing a wide variety of crops.
The highly fertile soil of the district is supplemented by regular rainfall and a well-connected network of irrigation facilities which comprises of a number of government canals, tanks and wells, thereby making the district abundantly favourable for agriculture and the growing of a variety of crops. The northern, southern and the eastern portions of the district of Bardhaman are extremely fertile which has led to intense cultivation on these lands. However, the laterite soil in the western portion of the district is unsuitable for the cultivation of crops barring the narrow valleys and depressions which are abundant in fertile soil and appropriate weather conditions.
Rice is the staple crop grown in the Bardhaman district with a major part of it being exported to neighbouring states as well as countries and simultaneously meeting the daily requirements of the district itself. Since Bardhaman majorly accounts its economy through the production and trade of rice, it is also very famously known as the ‘Granary of West Bengal’. Several varieties of rice are grown in the district which can be segregated into three primary varieties according to the three major seasons in which they are grown. These three varieties of rice, namely, the Aus or the autumn rice, the Aman or the winter rice and the Boro or the summer rice can be identified by their specific characteristics. Hence, Bardhaman is a major producer of rice and paddy accounts for a vast portion of the gross cropped area of the district.
Apart from rice, other cash crops grown in the area are jute, mustard, sugarcane, potatoes and oil seeds which are cultivated in marginal portions of the district and are sold commercially in the neighbouring states and countries. The weather conditions in Bardhaman comprising of an optimal level of rainfall and tropical humidity are highly favourable for growing a variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers.
These products, however, require adequate upkeep as they can spoil easily. Hence, the government of West Bengal along with the National Co-operative Government Corporation (NCDC) have taken numerous steps to ensure the proper maintenance of these horticultural produce such as the development of procedures like cold storage, packaging, food processing and marketing which are done after the harvest of these fruits and vegetables. All these processes are also a crucial part of the growth of the economy of the Bardhaman district.
However, the prosperity of the Bardhaman district in terms of its agricultural produce did not happen until the second half of the 20th century. In the year 1953, the Damodar Valley Corporation had been set up which undertook the implementation of several irrigation projects that has raised the standard of the agricultural process in the district, simultaneously increasing the yield of the agricultural produce as well as adding a scientific dimension to the practices of farming in the district of Bardhaman making it one of the most prosperous districts in West Bengal. Up until the year 1953, the farming and cultivation in the Bardhaman district was largely contingent upon the timely arrival of monsoon and the primitive facilities of irrigation which were inadequate and hardly worked. These soon changed with the establishment of the Damodar Valley Project which has made significant contributions in minimising the harmful effects of the unpredictable nature of the monsoon season.
Industries in BardhamanAlthough Bardhaman is primarily an agriculture dominated district, it also has a number of industries which are significant contributors to the business and economy of the district. The western portion of the district consists of the major industrial belt with favourable weather and infrastructure conditions resulting in a number of industries setting up their factories, warehouses and other premises in this area. The setting up of a number of industries in this district is supplemented by the fact of the availability of minerals in the district such as iron ores and deposits of coal. These industries are also supplied the mineral ores by the neighbouring states of Bihar, Orissa and Assam.
Moreover, the setting up of the Damodar Valley Project in the district has augmented the booming industrialisation in the post-independence era whereby continued hydro-electric power generation has greatly contributed to the working of the industries. The huge market for industrial products made up of minerals in the rest of the country and in foreign locations which has resulted in a significant amount of profits has made Bardhaman to be one of the major locus of investments from foreign companies in the latter half of the 20th century. This is primarily because of the huge savings in the cost of importing raw materials to these domestic industries which can already be found in these areas. Hence, this has led to the development of an urbanised industry based economy in the Bardhaman district.
The areas of the subdivisions of Asansol and Durgapur contain the bulk of the industries in the Bardhaman district. These industries are also one of the primary producers of steel, iron and coal products in the country. These traditional industries have experienced rapid variegation and new industrial developments thereby resulting in heavy engineering, coal-based chemicals and coal-based thermal power plants which are now operating with the regular iron and steel industries of the region. Other industries like fertilizers plants and hydroelectric power plants have also notably strengthened the local economy of the district of Bardhaman.
The most famous steel industries in the Bardhaman district are the Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO), the Durgapur Steel Plant and the Durgapur Alloy Steel Plant. The Durgapur Fertilizer Plant is a renowned fertilizer plant in Bardhaman and is also known to be the very first fertilizer plant in the state of West Bengal. The Durgapur Project Limited and the Hindustan Cables Limited are other noted industries in the district. The locomotive industry in the subdivision of Chittaranjan is also an important industry in the Bardhaman district. The urbanised economy of Bardhaman has several important industrial centres such as Raniganj, Kulti and Burnpur as well. Several deposits of coal have also been found in the area of Raniganj which forms an extensive portion of the Eastern Coalfields and that provides raw materials to the domestic plants as well as in the different states in the rest of India. This results in saving up a bulk of money which would have been otherwise engaged in incurring costs of importing raw materials from foreign locations.
The rural portions of the district of Bardhaman are primarily engaged in the various cottage industries that have developed in these areas. These cottage industries include the production of iron utensils and cutlery that are produced in Kanchannagar, dairy products, brass metal utensils and brass metal ware that are manufactured in the areas of Begunkhola, Bonpas and Dainhat, gold and silver industries, clay pottery, bamboo and cane crafts, oil crushing, stone carving, handloom weaving, etc. The areas of Kalna, Purbosthali and Manteswar are the primary hubs of cottage industries in the Bardhaman district.
There are also several companies in Bardhaman such as infrastructure companies, financial companies and consultancy firms which supplement the industrial sector of the district of Bardhaman and make it a great amalgamation of rural living with an urbanised economy.
Hence, we can see how the agricultural and industrial sectors work together to make the district of Bardhaman into a modernised economy with profit serving business interests resulting in the employment and improved living conditions of the people living in the district.