|District(s)||South 24 Parganas|
|Sex ratio||953 ♂/♀|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
• 4 m (13 ft)
Canning (Bengali: ক্যানিং) (also referred to as Port Canning) is headquarters of a subdivision of the same name, a town with a police station, a community development block, and an assembly constituency in South 24 Parganas district in the Indian state of West Bengal. Carrying the memory of an abandoned port, the town is dependent to some extent on the changing fortunes of the Matla River and the promise of a bridge over it. It is a major centre for the supply of fish to Kolkata.
H. E. A. Cotton writes, “The year 1864… It witnessed also the speculative mania over an unlucky scheme for the reclamation of the Sunderbands, of which nothing remains but the deserted wharves of Port Canning, but which resulted in ruin to many.” The idea of developing a major port at Canning faded with the choking of the Matla river as a result of inadequate headwater supply.
Lord Canning wanted to build a port that would be an alternative to Kolkata and a rival to Singapore. What no one heeded were the warnings of a lowly shipping inspector Henry Piddington, who had lived in the Caribbean and knew all about hurricanes and storms. He wanted the mangroves to be left alone, as they were Bengal’s defensive barrier against nature’s fury and absorbed the initial onslaught of cyclonic winds, waves and tidal surges. They went on to build a grand Canning with a strand, hotels and homes, but in 1867, the Matla river surged its fury on the new port-town, reducing it to a “bleached skeleton”.
In 1862, the Calcutta and South-eastern Railway opened a southward line from what was then known as Beliaghata station to Port Canning. In the same year, the East Bengal Railway had opened its line from Sealdah to Kushtia. It also opened its own southern line to Diamond Harbour. Calcutta and South-eastern Railway was taken over by the government in 1863. East Bengal Railway was taken over by the government in 1887. Services on the eastern side of Hooghly River was unified under Eastern Bengal State Railway and after further amalgamation in 1942, the Bengal Assam Railway.
The bazaars ended in causeway that led away from the town towards the Matla River. Although the causeway was a long one it fell short of the river…He remembered the Matla as a vast waterway, one of the most formidable rivers he had ever seen. But it was low tide now and the river in the distance was no wider than a narrow ditch flowing along the centre of a kilometre-wide bed. The freshly-laid silt that bordered the water glistened in the sun like dunes of melted chocolate. From time to time, bubbles of air rose from the depths and burst through to the top, leaving rings on the burnished surface… Although the vessel could not have been more than nine metres in length, it was carrying at least a hundred passengers, and possibly more: it was so heavily loaded that the water was within fifteen centimetres of its gunwales. It came to a halt and the crew proceeded to extrude a long gang plank that led directly into the mudbank.
Canning is located at  It has an average elevation of 4 metres (13 feet). It is gateway to the Sundarbans. It is situated on the south bank of the Matla River. It is part of the Kolkata Suburban Railway system and is connected to Sealdah station and is also connected to Kolkata by road. One can cross the Matla River and then proceed to Basanti for a boat to the interior of the Sundarbans or hire a motor launch for travel to Sundarbans at Canning itself. The first watch tower at Sajnekhali is about 5 hours away..
The Matla River is so silted up that during the dry season, boats cannot come to the jetties. They have to be stationed 500 yards away. During the monsoons, the river becomes so turbulent that boats cannot ferry people across the river. The Sunderban Development Board has decided to build a bridge on the river Matla at an estimated cost of Rs. 29 crore.
In the 2001 census, the two community development blocks had a population of 450,321 out of which 225,392 were males and 214,833 were females. Almost the entire population is classified as rural.
Canning is an intermediate panchayat (local self-government) under South 24 Parganas district. Village panchayats under it are – Bansra, Daria, Dighirpar, Gopalpur, Hatpukuria, Itkhola, Matla I and II, Nikarighata, Taldi, Atharobandi, Deuli I and II, Kalikatala, Matherdighi, Narayanpur, Sarengabad, Tambuldaha I and II.
Canning is a major market for supply of fish to Kolkata. The fishermen of the area bring their catch to the all-night fish market at Canning. Here the commission agents receive the fish and auction them. It is bought by the wholesalers and transported to Kolkata for sale to retailers, who sell it in the different markets. As greater part of Kolkata’s fish now come from South India and Madhya Pradesh, local wholesale trade at Canning and Bagnan has lost out in the competition.
Canning has two state assembly seats.
Abdur Razzak Molla of Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) won the Canning East seat from 1977 to 2006 defeating Amirul Islam of All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) in 2006, Mujibar Rahman Kayal of Indian National Congress (INC) in 2001, Akram Laskar of INC in 1996, Abdus Sattar Mollah of INC in 1991, Amar Nath Bandopadhyay of INC in 1987, Ahammad Nuruzzaman of INC in 1982 and Osman Gani of INC in 1977.
In the 2006 state assembly elections, Dwijapada Mondol of CPI(M) won the Canning West (SC) seat defeating his nearest rival, Gobinda Chandra Naskar of AITC. In 2001, Gobinda Chandra Naskar representing INC defeated Bimal Mistry of CPI(M). Bimal Mistry of CPI(M) defeated Bhaskar Sinha of INC in 1996 and 1991. Gobinda Chandra Naskar of INC defeated Chittaranjan Mirdha of CPI(M) in 1987. Chittaranjan Mirdha of CPI(M) defeated Gobinda Chandra Naskar of INC in 1982 and 1977.