Citizens' movement in Kolkata dates back to the early 1950s. Post- independence, the first election of Kolkata Corporation was held in 1952 on the basis restricted franchise. This resulted in resentment among people at large and there was a persistent demand for adult franchise. This, coupled with demand for more and better civic amenities, led to civic movements in different parts of Kolkata. Supply of safe drinking water, better roads with adequate illumination, garbage removal, sewerage, parks and play-grounds, vaccination etc were the demands. The movement included hall meetings, street corner meetings, distribution of leaflets etc. These civic movement culminated in citizens' committees in different parts of Kolkata. These committees took part in relief work in case of natural calamities, organised cultural functions and, at the same time, protested against spiralling prices of essential commodities. As a result of sustained citizens movement, election of Kolkata Corporation was held on the basis of adult franchise in 1960s.
In 1980s the citizens movement took a new turn. Repressive antisocial activities resulted in spontaneous eruption of people's anger on eastern fringes of Kolkata. People in genelar combatted the anti socials and compelled them to leave the locality. This inspired citizens of other parts of Kolkata to lead sporadic movements and form citizen's committees to resist antisocial activities.
A central Convention was held in Sidho-Kanho-Dahar on 23 March, 1986, where Sri Jyoti Basu, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, received the memorandum personally.
Meanwhile the Kolkata Municipal Corporation election was held according to the new Act passed by the Left Front Government. Sri Kamal Basu, an eminent person of North Kolkata, was the first Mayor. Under his leadership, a scheme for all round development of Kolkata was drawn. The need to encourage democratic participation of the citizens in affairs and concerns of this historic city was strongly felt. Consequently the urge to form a central platform which could nurture people's participatory movements throughout the length and breadth of the megacity emerged.
On 6 September, 1987 a mass convention was held at Calcutta University Centenary Hall and Kolkata Nagarik Sammelan was formed covering all the 141 wards of KMC. Eminent historian Prof. A.W. Mahmood was the founder President and Prof. Anil Bhattarcharya was the first Secretary. ‘Development, Patriotism and Peace’ was the slogan of the organisation.
Since then we have met three Prime Ministers of India viz. Sri Rajib Gandhi, Sri P. V. Narasimah Rao and Dr. Man Mohan Singh and discussed with them various proposals for all round development of Kolkata. We are striving for maintaining Peace and Harmony among all sections of people irrespective of Caste, Colour. Creed, religion, language, gender, age and political affiliation. ‘Nagarik Kolkata’ - our monthly organ – is being published regularly. The organisation has recently been registered under Societies Act, the registration number being S/2L/31946 of 2014-15 Very recently its website also has been launched.