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 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 Kultali CD Block 5,859.51 acres of land was acquired and vested. Out of this 5,621.97 acres or 95.95% of the vested land was distributed. The total number of patta holders was 10,375.
Kultali is located at 21°54′N 88°24′E.
Kultali CD Block is bounded by Jaynagar I and Canning I CD Blocks in the north, Basanti CD Block in a part of the east, Sundarbans forests in parts of the east and south, and Jaynagar II CD Block in the west.
It is located 53 km from Alipore, the district headquarters.
Kultali CD Block has an area of 306.18 km2. Kultali and Maipit coastal police stations serve this CD Block. Kultali panchayat samity has 9 gram panchayats. The block has 43 inhabited villages. Headquarters of this block is at Jamtalahat.
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 Kultali block/panchayat samiti are: Deulbari, Gopalganj, Gurguria Bhubaneswari, Jalaberia I, Jalaberia II, Kundakhali Godabar, Maipith Baikunthapur, Meriganj I and Meriganj II.
As per 2011 Census of India Kultali CD Block had a total population of 229,053, all of which were rural. There were 117,562 (51%) males and 111,491 (49%) females. Population below 6 years was 35,727. Scheduled Castes numbered 104,193 and Scheduled Tribes numbered 5,672.
As per 2001 census, Kultali block had a total population of 187,942, out of which 97,272 were males and 90,670 were females. Kultali block registered a population growth of 20.13 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 89,102 formed around one-half the population. Scheduled tribes numbered 6,648.
Large villages in Kultali CD Block (2011 census figures in brackets): Meriganj (22,225), Kailashnagar (5,083), Purba Tetulberia (4,309), Dongajora (10,271), Kirtankhola (5,312), Godabar (4,361), Jalaberia (20,138), Korakhali (4,188), Jamtala (4,495), Paschim Gabtala (4,387), Madhabpur (4,725), Madhusudanpur (6,899), Dakshin Garankati (6,189), Gopalganj (7,853), Kaikhali (6,030), Sankizahan (8,811), Katamari (5,238), Dakshin Durgapur (5,346), Deulbari Debipur (7,315), Purba Gurguria (5,662), Madhya Gurguria (4,669), Debipur Gurguria (10,812), Bhubaneswari (6,936), Maipit (5,615), Binodpur (5,330), Baikuntapur (7,802) and Kishorimohanpur (6,483).
As per 2011 census the total number of literates in Kultali CD Block was 134,101 (69.36% of the population over 6 years) out of which 78,601 (59%) were males and 55,500 (41%) 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, Kultali block had a total literacy of 60.09 per cent for the 6+ age group. While male literacy was 74.45 per cent female literacy was 44.58 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 159,897 and formed 69.81% of the population in Kultali CD Block. Muslims numbered 68,385 and formed 29.86% of the population. Others numbered 771 and formed 0.33% of the population.
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.
Kultali CD Block had a poverty ratio of 46.86% 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 Kultali had a rank of 25 amongst all the 29 blocks. In infrastructure development it was last amongst all CD Blocks. In Kultali, an insignificant 0.15% households had access to electricity. The length of surfaced roads was 0.41 km per km2 area. The number of bank branches was 0.21 per 10,000 population. 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, where there is hardly any scope for employment beyond the agricultural sector. In Kultali, 47.45% of rural households were engaged as daily/ agricultural/ other physical labour, 36.67% were cultivators, 5.76% were self-employed rural artisans/ hawkers, 4.92% were engaged in labour oriented regular jobs in the unorganised sector, and 5.19% were engaged in the organised sector or work as professionals.
As per 1991 census, while male literacy rate was 58.93% female literacy was 22.01% and there was a gender gap of 36.92% in Kultali. In 2006, Kultali had 15 secondary and higher secondary schools. All, but 1, of them had library facility but only 1 of them had computer facilities (lack of electricity is a major constraint).
In 2006, in Kultali for 52 villages there were 43 health sub-centres and 4 rural hospital/public health centres having 47 beds with 9 medical officers, 11 nurses, 57 health assistants and 6 pharmacists and technicians. 52.4% of the 229 habitations in Kultali CD Block were fully covered with safe drinking water (including tube wells and tap water), 47.2% habitations were partly covered and 0.4% habitations were not covered.
Kultali has 191.561 km of embankments. Breaches in these embankments varied from 5 km in 2003-04 to 23.4 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.