Kolkata’s landmark Old Silver Mint to be re-incarnated

July 17th, 2008 - 1:52 pm ICT by IANS  

By Aparajita Gupta
Kolkata, July 17 (IANS) Eight developers have bid for a Rs.1.5-billion project that will see the Old Silver Mint, a fine piece of Grecian architecture on Strand Road here, developed into a museum, hotel and food court, an official associated with the project said. The pre-qualification bid was completed July 10 and the final bid will take place within three months, said Sudip Datta, vice-president at project adviser Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS). The project will be a public-private partnership between the Security Printing and Minting Corp under the finance ministry, owner of the mint, and the winning bidder.

IL&FS, selected by Security Printing as the project adviser, has already prepared the project report, though the revenue sharing model is yet to be worked out.

The 179-year-old heritage structure, standing within a 12.5 acre compound off the Hooghly river, was used for minting coins and manufacturing medals and decorations before Independence but fell into disuse after the facility was shut down in 1952.

The mint’s foundation was laid in March 1824 and production began Aug 1, 1829. The facade of the building was designed after the Temple of Minerva in Athens.

The palatial building stood forlorn all these years, bearing the marks of the ravages of time, till West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi took an initiative more than a year ago for revamping the edifice and reusing the vast premises adjoining it.

“The premises are divided into two plots. The first plot will house a mint museum, art and culture centre and a convention centre. The open space would be used to build a food court, tea-coffee shop and a bookshop,” Datta told IANS.

“In the second plot, there are two existing buildings, which would be connected to convert into a hotel,” he added.

Datta said revamping cost would be kept at a low Rs.1.4-1.5 billion because it did not involve any major construction, with the main structure of the heritage building being retained.

Eight developers have placed bids, including some from the city, but the IL&FS official refused to name any.

The finance ministry will bear 20 percent of the project cost, with the rest borne by the developer.

“The developer will own the property for 32 years. After that, it would return to the finance ministry,” Datta said.

The project is expected to be completed by 2010.

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