Asansol (Bengali: আসানসোল) is a coal mining & industrial metropolis and one of the busiest commercial centres in India. It is the second largest city in West Bengal after Kolkata. It is in the Asansol subdivision located in Bardhaman District, in the western periphery of the state. It has a large work force, moderately high per capita income, educational establishments, good transport connections, several housing complexes, and land suitable for industry, institutions, transport and commerce. Its hinterland is Bankura and Purulia districts and North Bengal, linked to parts of Orissa and Jharkhand states. According to a report released by International Institute for Environment and Development, a UK-based policy research non-governmental body, Asansol is among the 11 Indian cities in the list of 100 fastest growing cities in the world with a rank of 42. The name Asansol is derived from two different names, Asan tree (a species of tree found on the banks of river Damodar) and Sol-Bhumi/Sol-land (the land rich in minerals).
Burnpur (Bengali: বার্ণপুর) is an important industrial city in Asansol sub-division in the state of West Bengal, India . It is located in Bardhaman District, in the heart of the mining-industrial belt in the western periphery of the state.
The city got its name from the Managing Agency house, Burn & Co., which promoted IISCO in 1918. The township came up with the construction of the iron-making plant. The Indian Standard Wagon factory was also set up in 1918 and shared the township with IISCO.
The stretch from Andal to Barakar covering Raniganj, Jamuria, Asansol, Burnpur, Neamatpur, Kulti and Barakar, composed of about 40 kilometres along Grand Trunk Road forms one urban agglomeration, all of which falls within Asansol subdivision area. The gaps between the contiguous urban centres are filled with collieries and small settlements. It should properly be considered as one city. The Chittaranjan – Rupnarayanpur urban centre are also closely linked. For the purposes of planning the entire stretch from Panagarh to Barakar is overseen by the Asansol Durgapur Development Authority (ADDA).
Being the central city of the coal belt, Asansol is heavily industrialised though many of the industries have fallen on hard times in the recent years, leading to its transformation into a trading town that utilises its position as the transport centre. The largest employers in the area are Eastern Coalfields (a subsidiary of Coal India Limited) and IISCO Steel Plant of Steel Authority of India Limited. Other major industries are Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Hindustan Cables Ltd., Disergarh
The location of the iron works was at Hirapur. It was a small hamlet amidst the sal (shorea robusta gaertn) forests, in Shergarh pargana belonging to the Raja of Panchakut (Panchet). Nearby villages were Narsinghbandh, Dharampur, Rangapara, Kalajharia, Nabaghunti, Santa, Napuria, Nakrasota and Chhotodighari. At that time the railway track of Bengal Nagpur Railway was there with a small station named Narsinghbandh. With the construction of the new township, the railway station was renamed Burnpur. When the steelmaking facilities were added the village of Napuria was absorbed in the plant.
The Asansol-Durgapur region is composed of undulating latterite region. This area lies between two mighty rivers – the Damodar and the Ajay. They flow almost parallel to each other in the region – the average distance between the two rivers is around 30 km. For ages the area was heavily forested and infested with plunderers and marauders. The discovery of coal led to industrialisation of the area and most of the forests have been cleared.
Initially people of Dravidian and Austroloid stock inhabited this region. Around two thousand five hundred years ago, it became an area of significant Jain activity. According to some, the last Tirthankar of Jain religion, Mahavira Vardhamana, used to live and work in the area. The district and headquarters town thus came to be known as Bardhaman. Some identify the spread of Jainism in West Bengal with the Aryanisation of the region. Evidence of major Jain activity exists in the Jain temples on Pareshnath Hill in neighbouring Jharkhand. There is an old Jain temple at Begunia on the bank of the Barakar river and temples in neighbouring Bankura district also bear evidence of major Jain activity in the region. There is a Jain Temple in Asansol devoted to Vasupujya,12th Tirthankara in Mehta Road in Durga mandir and a Jain Bhawan.
Later, the area was possibly part of the Vishnupur kingdom, where the Malla dynasty ruled for around a thousand years till the advent of the British. There is a Vishnupur style temple in Chhotodighari village providing a clue to its links with Vishnupur. The local dialect and culture of the region has closer affinities with those of Bankura and Vishnupur than the other neighbouring areas.
Power Supply, Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), Burn Standard, Reckitt and Coleman, couple of cement plants such as Burnpur Cement, Asansol Cement,Lafarge Cement India Pvt. Ltd., iCore Cement and refractory units such as Kabita Refractories.
Amongst the old inhabitants of the area, the Thakurs of Hirapur and the Dubeys of Narsighbandh are well known. Manik Chand Thakur, a descendant of Srinivas Thakur, who was a direct disciple of Sri Chaitanya, came and settled in Hirapur. Hirapur finds a mention as a village, under the jurisdiction of Asansol Police Station and Post office in the Village Directory of Burdwan District, compiled by the Post Master General of Bengal in 1884. The police station and assembly constituency are still named Hirapur.
G.H.Fairhurst, the first general manager of IISCO, had a long stay at Burnpur. He was instrumental not only for founding the township but also developing it socially. A middle school was named after Mary Fairhurst. H.V.Peeling spent about a quarter of a century at Burnpur and expanded the township. He was succeeded as group agent in 1949 by I.S.Puri. Ashok Chaterjee, who was Social & Welfare Adviser in Martin Burn was the person responsible for the acquisition of land for the growth and expansion of the plant and township. As the company’s township at Burnpur was hemmed in by private localities such as Subhaspally, Puranahat, Rambandh, Shyambandh, Santinagar, Rahmatnagar and Husseinnagar apart from the old villages, new townships were built at Chhotodighari and Riverside in the late fifties. The area along Burnpur Road and Radhanagore Road also filled up with houses and the town became contiguous with Asansol.
Under the private management less than 20 per cent of the employees were allotted quarters. Since takeover of IISCO by the government, housing satisfaction increased to over 50 per cent, which is considered adequate for an industrial organisation. Now that the manpower in the steel plant is falling rapidly, and may not be more than a few thousand in a few years’ time, down from a peak manpower of 28,000 in the late seventies, Burnpur will be more of a civil township, rather than a company township, as at present.
IISCO Steel Plant runs several schools and there are a number of private schools. Burnpur Boys' High School ,Burnpur Girls' School, Burnpur Riverside School BRS, and Chhotodighari Vidyapith are among the reputed schools goverened by IISCO whereas Subhaspally Bidyaniketan, Hirapur School, and Shanti Nagar School are government schools. Kashinath Lahiri Public School, established in 1999, is at present provididing its services mainly for the residents of Rangapara, Surjonagar, Dihika and also Burnpur.Burnpur has a rich cultural life centred on Burnpur Club, Bharati Bhaban, Employees Recreation Centre (Chhotodighari) and numerous private clubs. Burnpur Stadium has been a centre of great sporting activity. Burnpur had places of worship for different faiths from the earliest days – churches, mosques, temples and a gurdwara. Town Puja at Bari Maidan and Shivasthan have been centres of major religious activity. The undulating slopes on banks of the Damodar river has been transformed into a scenic park with the efforts of F.W.A.Lahmeyer and J.A. Deshpande. It was subsequently named Nehru Park. It is amongst the main attractions in the region for leisure and picnic spots. The main attraction in the park being sitting beside the small waterfall. The 500-bed hospital is amongst the largest and the best in the area. IISCO’s private airstrip on the banks of the Damodar and near Kalajharia village can handle small aircraft.
In burnpur one of, the most famous and under achieved person was Late.Anath Bandhu Gupta.His contribution towards IISCO steel plant was remarkable, under his supervision lots of people worked in IISCO. His best friend was Late.Nihar Ranjan Dutta(brother of Late Utpal Dutta,famous artist)He established Burnpur canteen beside burnpur boys high school, at that time it was very famous in burnpur.
In 1774, Suetonius Grant Heatly and John Summer of the East India Company discovered coal in the area, and mining started. The early exploration and mining operations were carried out in a haphazard manner and demand was limited. Regular mining operations started in 1820, led by an agency house, Alexander & Co. In 1835, Prince Dwarkanath Tagore bought over the collieries and Carr and Tagore Co. led the field. For the entire 19th century and a major part of the 20th century, Ranigunj coalfields in the Asansol region was the major producer of coal in the country.
At the behest of William Princep, Carr and Tagore Co. joined hands with Gilmore Hombray and Co. in 1843 to form Bengal Coal Co., which opened up the coal mining activities. Their headquarters was at Sanctoria. Other mining companies included Birbhum Coal Co., Equitable Coal Co., Madhu Roy and Prasanna Dutta Co., Bird and Co., South Barakar Coal Co., Andrew Yule and Company Ltd. and Balmer Lawrie.
The discovery of coal brought in the railways. In India, the first operational railway track was between Mumbai and Thane in 1853. In the eastern sector, the first train ran from Howrah to Hughli in 1854. It was officially opened in 1855 up to Ranigunj (194 km). It was extended through the Sahibganj loop up to Varanasi in 1862 and to Delhi in 1866. The line to Mumbai via Allahabad was opened in 1870. The present main line via Patna was opened in 1871. The Grand Chord via Gaya came in 1906. The Howrah-Bardhaman chord was opened in 1917.
Asansol became an important centre of railway activity, and the railway settlements grew with the growth of the locomotive shops. It also brought in the European and Anglo-Indian communities, who were to play a pivotal role in the life of Asansol. Durand Institute (now renamed Swami Vivekananda Institute), reputed to be the oldest railway institute in Asia, was a major centre of European and Anglo-Indian activity. There is an imposing structure of tall column (memorial tower)in front of Durand Institute commemorating the memories of the supreme sacrifice of those European soldiers and commanders who laid down their lives in the First World War (1914–1918).It is as good as a landmark of Asansol, reminder of the European legacy of the place and it is so high that it is easily visible from the railway station. The old churches of Asansol and the leading schools were built to cater primarily to these communities. It was much later that Indians were allowed into the schools. There were a handful of Armenian businessmen. Old timers still recall the shops of Gregory at Asansol and Johannes at Burnpur. While Asansol emerged as an important centre of East Indian Railway, ultimately becoming the divisional headquarters in 1925, Adra emerged as a major centre of Bengal Nagpur Railway. It is now the headquarter of Divisional Railway Manager(DRM) Asansol, the post previously designated as Divisional Superintendent (DS).
The extensive growth of railways in the country led to the development of the iron and steel industry. In 1870, James Erskine set up the Bengal Iron Works, also known as Barakar Iron Works. Some sources attribute the development to Hoare Miller and Co. of Kolkata. It is possible that James Erskine was an employee of that company. The first blast furnace using coal instead of charcoal went into production at Kulti in 1875. In those days, the place was more easily identified as Kendwa. Kulti was a smaller village than Kendwa. It utilised low-grade iron ore available locally.
In 1901 the country’s first iron ore mine was developed at Pansiraburu in Singhbhum district (then in Bengal, now in Jharkhand), as part of Manoharpur Ore Mines and linked to Kulti. In 1904, Kulti is credited with having produced steel from open hearth furnaces. However, with stiff competition from imported material, the steelmaking facilities were closed down. The ownership of the pioneering plant changed hands many times. The farsighted control of the plant by Sir Rajendranath Mookerjee, who had founded Martin and Co. with Sir Acquin Martin, kept it going.
Burn and Co promoted The Indian Iron and Steel Co. Ltd. in 1918. G.H. Fairhurst is credited with having founded the plant at Burnpur (then better known as Hirapur). Sir Rajendranath Mookerjee and T. Leslie Martin were also associated with it. Sir Biren Mookerjee joined a little later and played a major role in the development of the plant. Iron production started at Burnpur in 1922. Kulti Works of Bengal Iron was merged with IISCO in 1936. Steel Corporation of Bengal (SCOB) set up the steelmaking facilities at Burnpur in 1939. SCOB was merged with IISCO in 1952 and Martin Burn was then the managing agent of the company. Indian Standard Wagon (ISW) (later renamed Burn Standard) set up its wagon factory at Burnpur.
Another major development of the colonial culture was the establishment of clubs. The British are credited with the formation of such clubs as Asansol Club, Burnpur Club, Kulti Club and Dishergarh Club. In the early days, these clubs did not admit Indians, who had their own organisations such as Hirapur Indian Association (later renamed Bharati Bhaban). Subsequently, Indians gained admission into the British clubs.
The growth and development of trade unions was a corollary of industrial development. Labour wages were low but the conditions of the rural areas were so pitiable that the area witnessed considerable influx of population not only from the neighbouring districts but also from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (then the United Provinces). The countryside was weighed down by excessive land revenue and lack of development. Famines were a regular feature.Coal theft is common practice in this region.
The independence of the country in 1947 ushered in the next major economic change. Damodar Valley Corporation, the first multipurpose river valley project in the country, had a major presence at the edge of the area with dams at Maithon and Panchet (at both places the river forms the border with Jharkhand). The artificial lakes behind the dams have added considerably to the natural beauty of the area and are centres of picnicking.
With the nationalisation of the railways East Indian Railway became Eastern Railway and Bengal Nagpur Railway became South Eastern Railway. Asansol became divisional head quarters of Eastern Railway. Andal has the largest marshalling yard in Asia. The diesel locomotiveo shed at Andal can accommodate 101 locomotives and the electric locomotive shed at Asansol can accommodate 118 locomotives.
Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) was the first locomotive workshop in India, named after the freedom fighter, leader and statesman Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. It initially produced steam locomotives. The production activity started on 26 January 1950 the day when India became a Republic. The first steam locomotive Deshbandhu was dedicated to the nation by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India. With the roll out of first CLW built WAG-9 electric locomotive Navyug on 14 November 1998, India joined the five countries which can manufacture electric locomotives with 3-phase technology. In 2006, CLW produced Dr Silver, a 6,000 hp (4,500 kW) three-phase locomotive with remote diagnostic system. Until 31 March 2006 CLW has produced 3380 electric locomotives.
Sen Raleigh Industries started production in their cycle factory at Kanyapur, near Asansol, in 1949. Pilkington set up a glass factory in Asansol. The Jaykay group established an aluminium plant at Jaykaynagar, near Asansol. The Dhakeswari textile mill was set up at Suryanagar on the banks of the Damodar. Bengal Paper Mill was established at Ballabhpur, Ranigunj. Hindustan Cables Ltd. set up their plant at Rupnarayanpur.
The Sen-Raleigh cycle factory was located in the outskirts called Kanyapur. Later the company was taken over by government and renamed to CCIL. Models from the factory included Raleigh, Humber, Balaka, Rudge, Arjun and Swathi. Another major industry was Hindustan Pilkington Glass with a factory located in a prime area of the city.
A steel plant was set up in neighbouring Durgapur and the plant at Burnpur was expanded. There also was considerable expansion of townships and other facilities. Nehru Park (formerly Lahmeyer Park) was built utilising the natural contour of the terrain on the banks of the Damodar. The airstrip at Burnpur can handle small aircraft. Along with the expansion of the steel plant at Burnpur the outdated open top blast furnaces of Kulti were closed and the Kulti Works emerged as the pioneer and later as the largest producer of spun pipes in the country. It also produced foundry products.
The city's economy is based on the coal and steel industries. Situated in the Damodar River valley, the city has evolved and expanded over time to a population of one million, ranking it 23rd in India. It is located about 200 km from Kolkata.Asansol is the 42nd Fastest growing city in the world and 10th in the India.
Technological obsolescence proved to be a bane for the Asansol industrial belt. As the British industrialists left, the Indian trading community, which took over the British-owned industries and mines, failed to handle the situation properly, leading to labour trouble and industrial decline. The government the IISCO Steel Plant of SAIL, the area is looking up again.
Asansol is in the heart of the coal country. Ranigunj coalfields cover an area of 1530 km². Although it is spread over four districts of West Bengal – Bardhaman, Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia – and a part of Dhanbad district (Jharia coalfields are also in that district) of Jharkhand, the heart of Ranigunj Coalfields lies in the Asansol region. Pandaveswar, Kajora, Jhanjra Bankola, Kenda, Sonepur, Kunustoria, Satgram,Ningha, Sripur, Sodepur and Salanpur are the major coal areas around Asansol. Kasta Coalfields, north of the Ajay river in Birbhum district, Mejia and Parbelia, across the Damodar in Bankura and Purulia district respectively, and Mugma, across the Barakar river in Dhanbad district, are adjacent to Asansol. Only small patches intrude into Durgapur subdivision. Coal in India was first mined in Narayankuri near Ranigunj.Sitarampur boasts of the first Mines Rescue Station, Directorate of Mines Safety and explosive manufacturing unit now defunct but the former two still in operation.
The region sits on seams of coal. Reserves of coal in West Bengal (mostly in Asansol) are estimated to be 22.62 billion tonnes. ECL has 107 operating mines, a majority of them in Asansol. Superior quality non-coking coal is mined in the region. With around two centuries of coal mining in the region, most of the coal in the upper seams have been exhausted and underground mining has been extending to deeper seams. However, substantial volumes of coal are available in the pillars and walls of coal left behind to support the roofs of underground mines. Coal remaining in the surface seams can be mined by open cast methods.
The use of heavy duty earth-moving equipment has led to the development of large open cast mines. ECL’s total coal production of 27.25 million tonnes in 2004–05, is expected to rise to 46 million tonnes by 2011–12. Out of this 32.84 million tonnes is expected to be from the open cast mines. The annual production of Sonepur Bazari open cast project, a major project in the area, is proposed to be raised from the level of 3 million tonnes in 2004–05 to 8 million tonnes by 2011–12.
Underground coal mining brings with it the problem of subsidence. By law, when coal is taken out from an underground mine it is to be filled in with sand. However, the laws were not there in earlier days and even when it was there, private mine owners had violated this for decades and left behind big gaps beneath the surface. At places, the surface is subsiding and creating havoc in the area.
In 1952, 12 people were killed in a roof collapse in Dhemo Main colliery. In 1954, 63 people were killed in Newton Chikli, near Ranigunj, as a result of inundation. In 1956, 28 people were killed in Baro Dhemo colliery because of inundation. In 1958, 175 people were killed at Chinakuri because of explosion of fire damp. In 1994, 55 people were killed in New Kenda, near Jamuria, as a result of fire/suffocation by gases.
The Baro Dhemo colliery accident, where a large number of people were rescued the mine was inundated with water, provided the inspiration for a theatrical production in Bengali, Angar (1959), directed by Utpal Dutta. The lighting effects by Tapash Sen, which recreated the flooding of a mine on the stage at Kolkata, were notable.
Bardhaman became a major administrative centre for the Muslim rulers and the subdivision was a part of the Muslim kingdoms in the region. It later became a part of the Bardhaman Raj functioning under the Mughals. When Mir Kassem, then Nawab of Sube Bangala, ceded Bardhaman along with Medinipur and Chittagong to East India Company in 1760 (three years after the Battle of Plassey), it was the beginning of an eventful chapter for the region. Till that time the area was a wilderness of forest and jungle, dotted at long intervals with tiny settlements. The countryside was ravaged and plundered by outlaws.
Administrative changes started taking place with the advent of the British. While Badhaman Raj continued to function under British tutelage, changes were made to suit the requirements of British administration. One major change was that of parganas (administrative division) to thana (police station).
In 1837 when Bankura district was formed, the Asansol-Ranigunj area was part of Bankura district. In 1847, Ranigunj subdivision was formed with three police stations –Ranigunj, Kanksa and Neamatpur and it was made a part of Bardhaman district. In 1906 the subdivisional headquarters was shifted to Asansol and the subdivision renamed accordingly. In 1910, the police stations in Asansol subdivision were Asansol, Ranigunj, Kanksa, Faridpur and Barakar. In 2006, Asansol subdivision has the following police stations: Chittaranjan, Salanpur, Barabani, Asansol (North), Asansol (South), Ranigunj, Jamuria, Hirapur and Kulti. In 1968, Durgapur subdivision was carved out of Asansol subdivision.
Additional Superintendent of Police is in overall charge of Police administration of Asansol being assisted by Dy. S.P (Hqrs), Dy.S.P (SR) and Dy.S.P, DEB Asansol. Asansol Police Lines which is located at the heart of the city is the head quarters of Asansol Police though the Police Office is located at Evelyn Lodge. Armed Police Inspector (API) Asansol is in charge of District Armed Police who are deployed at Asansol. Reserve Office looks after disposition, leave, transfer/promotional matters of police personnel. Apart from that District Intelligence Officer-II is entrusted with intelligence related matters.
Asansol subdivisional police has done pioneering work by introducing registered organisations like Disha Janakalyan Kendra, Lachhipur and Faiz-e-Aam Committee, Railpar, and Udichi Co-operative, and Gunjan Ecological Park, Nigha. Shri Soumen Mitra IPS, the then Addl.s.p, Asansol introduced this concept.
Asansol is a corporation administered by the Asansol Municipal Corporation. In 1850, a union committee was formed to look after the civic needs of Asansol. The municipality was approved in 1885 but started functioning effectively in 1896. It has been upgraded to the status of a corporation in 1996.
The Grand Trunk Road (NH 2) runs across the subdivision. The highway has been broadened as part of the Golden Quadrilateral project and now allows two lane traffic each way. A bypass enables highway traffic to avoid the congested areas of Asansol, Neamatpur, Kulti and Barakar. Asansol is connected to Kolkata by road with daily Volvo buses as well as non-ac government buses run by the South Bengal State Transport Corporation which ply at half-an-hour interval duration and this 224 km distance is taking 4 to 4.5 hours approximately. The South Bengal State Transport Corporation also plies buses in various other routes such as Malda, Siliguri, Midnapur, Bankura, Burdwan, Kalna,Habra,Barackpore,Digha,Berhampore etc. Also there are many Private Operators which ply express and Super Fast as well as Deluxe Buses to various other towns of the State as well as Outside the State to places such as Dhanbad , Bokaro Steel City , Jamshedpur , Ranchi , Giridih , Hazaribag etc. Government Bus Service operators also includes the North Bengal State Transport Corporation which plies buses to towns of North Bengal such as Malda , Raiganj , Siliguri , Coochbihar etc.
The railway track from Kolkata to Delhi passes through the subdivision and bifurcates into the main line and the grand chord line, at Sitarampur railway junction, a little to the west of Asansol. Another railway track links Asansol with Adra and then to Jamshedpur via Purulia and Kharagpur via Bankura. A branch line connects Andal with Sainthia on the Sahibgunj loop. Almost all of the trains linking Kolkata with north India connect Asansol with Kolkata as well as with north India. The Howrah – Indore Shipra Express and the Howrah-Gwalior-Agra Cant. Chambal Express are the trains that connects the city to Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior, Jhansi and other central Indian cities. Other trains like Asansol-Mumbai express, Asansol-Ahmedabad Express, connects Asansol with couple of other major cities of India. Asansol-Tiruvanantapuram Express and Asansol-Gorakhpur Express are the two new trains introduced in 2011 Rail Budget.
An aerodrome is located at Burnpur in Asansol. Another airport will be constructed at Andal, (27 km from Asansol) within the next few years.
For movement within the city, there are various options available. One can easily find a Mini-bus or a Local town service bus from Asansol Railway Station via the City Bus Stand to various parts of the town. Auto-Rickshaws are also easily available. Nowadays there is an easy availability of the CNG auto-rickshaw services in Asansol which is the first of its kind in Eastern India.
Bengali language newspapers like Anandabazar Patrika, Bartaman, Sangbad Pratidin, Aajkaal, and Ganashakti are widely circulated in Asansol. Popular English language newspapers available in Asansol include The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, The Statesman, The Telegraph and Asian Age, the most popular ones being The Times of India and The Telegraph. Some major periodicals are Desh, Sananda, Unish Kuri, Anandalok and Anandamela.
In addition to All India Radio, Asansol also has two private FM radio stations: Big FM 92.7 and Red FM 93.5.
Asansol receives almost all the television channels that are received by the rest of the country. Apart from the state-owned terrestrial network Doordarshan, cable television also serves most of the homes in and around the city . Local news broadcasts, sporting events, and concerts are broadcasted live or delayed via cable to many households. DTH services both by Government and private companies are also available like Tata Sky, Dish TV, Digital TV – Airtel, Digital TV – Reliance.
The city is serviced by cell phone companies such as Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, BSNL, Reliance Communications, Tata Indicom, MTS and Virgin Mobile. Recently Idea, Uninor and Tata Docomo have also started providing cellular services in the city . Cellular coverage is extensive with both GSM and CDMA services being available. The major number of subscribers of mobile service are that of BSNL and Smart – Reliance GSM Service. With the improved service of quality Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel and Idea also have a huge market and is being used by many people. The newly introduced BSNL 3G mobile services are also available in Asansol.
Internet is available in the city and adjoining areas and served through broadband services. The DataOne broadband services are provided mainly by BSNL. Besides the broadband services provided by BSNL, some people also use internet services by dial-up connections provided by BSNL and also by the private operators such as Airtel, Reliance, Tata Indicom, Idea, MTS and other private mobile operators providing mobile services in the city.
As of 2001 India census, Asansol had a population of 1,067,369. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Asansol has an average literacy rate of 73%, higher than the national average of 59.5%. 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Although Asansol is predominantly a Bengali speaking city today, Asansol has mixed population of Bengali, Hindi and Urdu speaking people, English is the language of business communication and once widely spoken. After the railway works came, there was a substantial British and Anglo-Indian population. English medium schools started to impart education in English from as early as 1877. The first Christian Brother School in India St. Patrick's School was started in 1891. The students from this and other English medium schools provided the elite work force that was needed to operate the British Indian Railways, the British Indian Army,the Indian Civil Services and the coal mines. Post independence, most of the Anglo-Indian community migrated to Canada and Australia. The community living in Asansol now is multicultural as there are a large number of Biharis,Punjabis, Marwaris, Gujaratis, Muslims and other non Bengalis.There is no Indian festival that is not celebrated in Asansol and the people of all communities take part in them with equal fervour.
People from various parts of India have added to the diverse cultures and traditions at all levels. Both Burnpur United Club and Burnpur Cricket Club flourished. There were clubs such as Barret Club and Kulti Sammelani, which prospered. Golf was played at Kulti and Yachting was popular at Maithon. In 1951, Asansol Rifle Club was set up at Chandmari. The two cultural hubs are Rabindra Bhavan in Asansol and Bharati Bhawan at Burnpur. Another cultural center of Asansol City is Sarat Mancha, located at Asansol Police Lines.
Asansol is an educational hub, acting as the educational centre for the coal belt from Dhanbad to Ranigunj. Some of the schools are Asansol Ramakrishna Mission, Dhadka NCL Vidyamandir, Domohani Kelejora High School, Umarani Gorai Mahilakalyan, Arunoday High School, Manimala Girls, Eastern Railways High School, Dyanand Anglo Vedic Higher Secondary School, St. Patrick's Higher Secondary School, Burnpur Riverside School, St. Vincent's High and Technical School, Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School, Loreto Convent, Assembly of God Church School, Chelidanga High School,Kendriya Vidyalaya, Asansol Subhaspalli Bidyaniketan and Burnpur Riverside School, Asansol Collegiate School, Mahisila Govt.Colony High School, Rahmania high secondary school ,Haji-Qadam-Rasul-High-School, India International School and Jaharmal Jalan Institution.There are five schools run by IISCo authority. There are three general degree colleges viz. Bidhan Chandra College, Banwarilal Bhalotia College, Asansol Girls' College. There is an engineering college (Asansol Engineering College), one pharmacy college (Gupta College of Technological Sciences), two polytechnics and one Homoeopathy Medical College. To cater to these educational instituitions there are a lot of book shops in the region, some of them are Student's Stores (ESTB 1932), Roy Book Stall, some book stalls in Raha Lane, Asansol-1, Anand Book Stall, etc.
Development in Asansol is carried out by Asansol Durgapur Development Authority. ADDA promotes industrial estates, housing schemes, urban infrastructure development for industrialisation of this region, to provide solutions to industries and entrepreneurs. Its projects include roads, bridges, drainage, transport, water supply, irrigation. It develops schools, colleges and amusement parks.
Srijan Developers along with Avani Group has built a shopping mall at Burnpur Road opposite Chitra Cinema in the heart of the city. The main brands are Big Bazaar, Eylex Multiplex (three screens; capacity 750 seats), Reebok, Turtle, Himalaya Opticals, Passport, Archies, Moustache, Success, Chique, Hoffman, Touristers, Spacs, John Players, Cantabil, Gini & Jony, Bata Shoes, Titas, Pepe Jeans, Titan, Woodlands, Thomas Scott, Levis, Pantaloon, Sriniketan, City Style, City Mart, BlackBerry, Nokia etc. The total area of Galaxy is three lakh square feet having six levels including basement, lower ground, ground, and the total investment in developing the property is close to Rs.80 crore. The Big Bazaar store opened on 8 December 2010.
The seven-week tournament - christened as Premier League Soccer (PLS) - has been slated for February-March and will be held across the state among six franchisees to be based in Kolkata, Howrah, Barasat, Midnapore, Siliguri and Asansol. Bidding for franchisee owners and the players' auction should be over by July-August this year, according to organizers. It has been learnt that Sourav Ganguly and National Award-winning actor Prosenjit Chatterjee have been sounded out for owning the franchisees. According to organizers, each team will be led by one icon player, a la the IPL while the playing XI must consist of maximum three foreigners as well as another of Asian origin. The team will be managed by renowned overseas coaches with Fifa/Uefa 'A' licence. "We have approached a number of World Cuppers who are still playing or have recently retired. Talks are already on with the likes of Edgar Davids of the Netherlands and Junichi Inamoto of Japan. Globe-trotting French coach Philippe Troussier is also a 'target'," revealed Bhaswar Goswami of CMG. Organisers, however, disagreed that with little sporting culture and dilapidated infrastructure, their plan may fail. "We are aware of the existing structure on which the PLS will be run. But we have plans for improving conditions on a temporary basis. We may not be able to tick all boxes in the first year but, hopefully, we will make it a grand success in the future," Ganguly pointed out. Key Features of PLS The tournament will involve 6 franchisees to be based in Kolkata, Howrah, Barasat, Midnapore, Siliguri and Asansol. The first edition is slated for February-March next year. Each franchisee will have one icon player, who has to be a renowned foreigner. The team will consist of maximum three "quality" foreigners and an overseas player of Asian origin. Each team must be managed by an overseas coach with Fifa/Uefa 'A' licence. Minimum 1 player from the catchment area as well as another under-21 player must be on the playing XI. The bidding and auction processes are expected to be over by July-August this year. Only limited companies with a minimum net worth of Rs 10 crore can bid for a franchisee license. Matches will be held under lights with kick-off times of 5 pm and 7 pm.Nearby places