As compared to many other
sub division of West Bengal, Islampur is a
relatively newer sub-division. It has
appeared on the geographical map of West Bengal on 21.03.59 with the transfer
of some areas of Bihar (Purnia District) under the provision of the Bihar and
West Bengal (Transfer of Territories) Act, 1956.Initially, as per section 3 (2)
read with section 3(1)(a) of the Act, this area was the part of Darjeeling
District. Later on, it was merged with the West Dinajpur District, after
leaving out the areas lying north of the river Mahananda of the transferred
territory, to the Darjeeling District. After bifurcation of erstwhile West Dinajpur
District into North and South Dinajpur Districts on 1st April, 1992, this sub
division has become only outlying sub division of Uttar Dinajpur District.
Initially, there were four police stations viz. i) Chopra ii) Islampur iii) Goalpokhar iv) Karandighi. Later on, Chakulia Police Station was constituted with a part of Goalpokhar Police station. At present, there are five Development Blocks with five Panchayat Samities and 59 (Fifty Nine)-Gram Panchayets. The Location of Block Offices, Police Stations, Land reforms Offices & Block Medical Offices is given hereunder:
The total area of the Sub-Division is 1751.5 sq. KMs with distance between the northern end and southern end of the sub division being 120 KMs. The shape of the subdivision is almost like a chicken neck which is cushioned between Bangladesh on eastern side and State of Bihar on western side. Islampur is a corridor between North and South Bengal and forms a vital link to North Eastern India. All the important Rail, Road and communication link to North Eastern India pass through this area only. With the increased terrorist activities in the North- Eastern India, the strategic importance of Islampur is increasing day by day. From the security point of view Islampur can be considered as extension of Siliguri corridor.
The subdivision shares approximately 130 Kms of border with Bangladesh. NH-31 and NH-34 run through the subdivision for entire length of the sub division. At present four lanning of NH-31, as a part of East-West Corridor, is going on in the sub division and it is expected that commercial importance of this place will increase substantially after completion of this project. Aluabari Road and Dalkhola are important railway stations of the sub division and Bagdogra is the nearest Airport, from where flights to all major cities are available.
Once, this area used to be thickly forested, though most of which has lost now. The main soil types are old alluvium, alluvium and new alluvium, loamy sandy.The major rivers that pass through the Sub-Division are Mahananda, Dauk, Nagar & Sudhani.
Demographic features and cultural divergence
The total population of this Sub-Division is 13,08,494 as per 2001 census and it was 9,87,122 as per census 1991, 7,54,916 in 1981, 5,71,614in 1971 and 3,79,026 in 1961. The Decennial percentage increase is 32.3(2001-1991), 30.7%(1991-81), 32% (1981-71), 50 % (1971-61), which is quite high as compared to the state average and National average. This can be attributed to heavy influx of people from Bangladesh and other parts of Bengal & Bihar.
Before Independence, Muslims and Rajbanshis are main inhabitants this area. They form a separate group with Kaithi as their mother tongue. Subsequently there has been a large-scale migration of refugees from the then East Pakistan and that of Bhatia Muslims from Malda & Murshidabad due to acquisition of land in Farraka barrage and NTPC power plants. These people speak Bengali and to some extent they form separate cultural groups. Bhatias have purchased land in Karandighi, Chakulia and Goalpokhar areas from the local people at very cheap rates. Some of the land problems in these areas have their genesis to this heavy transfer of land. This large-scale migration has definitely changed the demographic pattern of the place and frequent law and order problems in the Karandighi area do occur because of dispute between locals and outsiders on one issue or another.
Since 1975 some businessman started pineapple cultivation at Chopra, which was taken in the area. Recently MMJ Exports Pvt. Ltd. visited the area for setting up of one processing unit up by other farmers. At present nearly 10000 acrs of land is under pineapple cultivation. The pineapple cultivation suffers from lack of proper marketing facility and absence of any processing unit and market co-operative at Chopra. At present around 1500 hectares of land is under Pineapple cultivation
At present Tea cultivation is coming up very fast in Chopra block. There are some tea gardens in Islampur and Goalpokhar –I block as well. Debijhora Tea garden and its processing unit is the oldest one among other gardens and processing units established in this sub-division. Tea Plantation is spreaded covering almost 20,000 acres of the sub division with approximately 400 small and big tea gardens