During 1946-1950 the Tebhaga movement in several parts of the 24 Parganas district led to the enactment of the Bargadari Act. Although the Bargadari Act of 1950 recognised the rights of bargadars to a higher share of crops from the land that they tilled, it was not implemented. Large tracts, beyond the prescribed limit of land ceiling, remained with the rich landlords. In 1967, West Bengal witnessed a peasant uprising, against non-implementation of land reforms legislation, starting from Kheyadaha gram panchayat in Sonarpur CD Block. From 1977 onwards major land reforms took place in West Bengal under the Left Front government. Land in excess of land ceiling was acquired and distributed amongst the peasants. Subsequently, “Operation Barga” was aimed at securing tenancy rights for the peasants. In Gosaba CD Block 13,608.84 acres of land was acquired and vested. Out of this 13,084.85 acres or 96.15% of the vested land was distributed amongst the peasants. The total number of patta holders was 26,176.
Sambhunagar, a constituent panchayat of Gosaba block, is located at 22°12′44″N 88°46′42″E.
Gosaba CD Block is bounded by Sandeshkhali II CD Block in North 24 Parganas district in the north and Basanti CD Block in the west. It bounded by the Sundarbans forests in the east and south. On the east, across the forests, there is the border with Satkhira District of Bangladesh. The Raimangal and Kalindi rivers run along the India-Bangladesh border.
Gosaba CD Block has an area of 296.43 km2. Gosaba and Sundarban Coastal police stations serve this CD Block. Gosaba panchayat samity has 14 gram panchayats. The block has 50 inhabited villages. Headquarters of this block is at Gosaba.
The Sundarbans area, in the south of the district, includes 102 deltaic islands, out of which 54 are inhabited and the rest is reserved forest. The area spread over 54,000 km2 is home to 3.9 million people or around 40% of the population of the district. As per December 2001 census there were 271 Royal Bengal tigers and other animals in the Indian portion of the Sundarban forest, spread across 42,000 km2. The floor of the Sunderbans varies from 0.9 m to 2.11 m above sea level. Tidal saline water from the Bay of Bengal alternatively drowns and exposes the islands twice a day throughout the year. Around 3,500 km of earthen embankments, protecting the inhabited islands, have been facing the daily onslaught in a cyclone-prone area for more than a century. Clearing of the forests effectively started in 1781 and in about a century Hingalganj, Hasnabad, Sandeshkhali I and II, Minakhan, Haroa (all in North 24 Parganas district in 2016) Canning I and II, Jaynagar I and II, Mathurapur I and II, and Sagar (all in South 24 Parganas district in 2016) had been fully or substantially cleared of forests. Thereafter, much of the interiors of Kakdwip, Patharpratima, Basanti, Kultali and Gosaba were cleared for human settlement. People started moving in to the area. The refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan were the last to come in large numbers between 1951 and 1971. Canning I and II, Jaynagar I and II, Mathurapur I and II, Kakdwip and Namkhana are a little away from the forests and being attached/ connected to the mainland their conditions are similar to other mainland blocks in the district, but Basanti, Gosaba, Kultali, Patharpratima and Sagar are largely isolated from the mainland. These islands are mostly separated from the deep forest by a river. Electric connections are rare, and transport and communications, other than river transport, are not there. Around 95% people depend on rain-fed agriculture. Sagar lies at the mouth of the Hooghly, which carries fresh water and so things are a little different there. The sea level, around India, is estimated to be rising at 2.55 mm per year. In the last 70 years, 220 km2 of forest land has been submerged and the process continues.
Gram panchayats of Gosaba block/panchayat samiti are: Amtala, Bally I, Bally II, Bipradaspur, Chottomollakhali, Gosaba, Kachuakhali, Kumirmari, Laharipur, Pathankhali, Radhanagar Taranagar, Rangabelia, Satzelia and Sambhunagar.
As per 2011 Census of India Gosaba CD Block had a total population of 246,598, all of which were rural. There were 125,901 (51%) males and 120,688 (49%) females. Population below 6 years was 27,841. Scheduled Castes numbered 154,484 and Scheduled Tribes numbered 23,343.
As per 2001 census, Gosaba block had a total population of 222,764, out of which 113,827 were males and 108,937 were females. Gosaba block registered a population growth of 11.10 per cent during the 1991-2001 decade. Decadal growth for South 24 Parganas district was 20.89 per cent. Decadal growth in West Bengal was 17.84 per cent.Scheduled castes at 146,060 formed more than one-half the population. Scheduled tribes numbered 22,561.
Large villages in Gosaba CD Block (2011 census figures in brackets): Radhanagar Paschim (4,196), Radhanagar Purba (4,583), Chimta (6,332), Amtali (5,650), Puinjali (5,455), Kumirmari (17,451), Kalidaspur (5,724), Taranagar (6,572), Baramollakhali (4,127), Radhanagar Dakshin (4,475), Harishpur (4,878), Kamakhyapur (4,577), Kamarpara (4,091), Chandipur (5,456), Manmathanagar (7,971), Gosaba (5,369), Arampur (6,618), Birajnagar (5,328), Bijoynagar (6,507), Bally (6,234), Amlamethi (9,298), Kachukhali (5,176), Satjalia (8,757), Dayapur (4,972), Chhota Mollakhali (10,537), Sudhansupur (4,352), Luxbagan (4,504), Sadhupur (6,992) and Lahiripur (6,851).
As per 2011 census the total number of literates in Gosaba CD Block was 172,781 (78.98% of the population over 6 years) out of which 96,642 (56%) were males and 76,139 (44%) were females.
As per 2011 census, literacy in South 24 Parganas district was 77.51 Literacy in West Bengal was 77.08% in 2011. Literacy in India in 2011 was 74.04%.
As per 2001 census, Gosaba block had a total literacy of 68.93 per cent for the 6+ age group. While male literacy was 80.74 per cent female literacy was 56.60 per cent. South 24 Parganas district had a total literacy of 69.45 per cent, male literacy being 79.19 per cent and female literacy being 59.01 per cent.
See also – List of West Bengal districts ranked by literacy rate
Bengali is the local language in these areas.
In the 2011 census Hindus numbered 217,155 and formed 88.06% of the population in Gosaba CD Block. Muslims numbered 21,286 and formed 8.63% of the population. Others numbered 8,157 and formed 3.31% of the population. Christians numbered 3,200.
In the 2011 census, Hindus numbered 5,155,545 and formed 63.17% of the population in South 24 Parganas district. Muslims numbered 2,903,075 and formed 35.57% of the population. In West Bengal Hindus numbered 64,385,546 and formed 70.53% of the population. Muslims numbered 24,654,825 and formed 27.01% of the population.
According to the South 24 Parganas district Human Development Report, it is an overwhelmingly rural district with 85% of the population living in rural areas. An analysis of the district’s population shows that 33 percent of the district’s population belongs to Scheduled Castes. While 65.86% of people are Hindus, 33.24% are Muslims. 86% of the population resided in the 29 CD Blocks. In 2005, more than 4 lakh households were identified as living below poverty line, pushing the poverty ratio in the district to 34.11%, way above the state and national poverty ratios.
Gosaba CD Block had a poverty ratio of 38.03% of the households in 2005. The Sundarbans region in general is afflicted with poverty with all the 13 CD Blocks recording above 30% and 8 CD Blocks recording more than 40% households in the BPL category.
In standard of living Gosaba had a rank of 21 amongst all the 29 blocks. In infrastructure development it had the 20th rank amongst all CD Blocks. In Gosaba, an insignificant 0.92% households had access to electricity. The length of surfaced roads was 0.18 km per km2 area. Lack of access to irrigation is a major problem for most of the CD Blocks in South 24 Parganas, but it assumes particular significance in the Sundarbans area, where there is hardly any scope for employment beyond the agricultural sector. The number of bank branches was 0.27 per 10,000 population. In Gosaba, 41.54% of rural households were engaged as daily/ agricultural/ other physical labour, 36.19% were cultivators, 5.05% were self-employed rural artisans/ hawkers, 6,26% were engaged in labour oriented regular jobs in the unorganised sector, and 10.95% were engaged in the organised sector or work as professionals.
As per 1991 census, while male literacy rate was 67.69% female literacy was 38.47% and there was a gender gap of 29.22% in Gosaba. In 2006, Gosaba had 40 secondary and higher secondary schools. All, but 1 of them, had library facility but only 1 of them had computer facilities (lack of electricity major constraint).
In 2006, in Gosaba for 122 villages there were 51 health sub-centres and 3 rural hospital/public health centres having 31 beds with 5 medical officers, 10 nurses, 41 health assistants and 4 pharmacists and technicians. 38.0% of the 266 habitations in Gosaba CD Block were fully covered with safe drinking water (including tube wells and tap water), 41.7% habitations were partly covered and 20.3% habitations were not covered.
Gosaba has 372.5 km of embankments, the highest amongst the 13 Sundarban CD Blocks. Breaches in these embankments varied from 6 km in 2003-04 to 54 km in 2006-07. Embankments raised along rivers are of critical importance for the safety of lives and protection of crops, against daily tides and tidal surges. Technologically the embankment structures are weak and there is need of proper drainage of accumulated rain water through sluice gates. Crude cuts in embankments for drainage of accumulated rain water and channels built for providing water to large fisheries (bheris) also add to the hazards. Cyclones and tropical depressions are regular threats.