Revamped Old Silver Mint will house coins museum: Chidambaram

December 8th, 2008 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 8 (IANS) Kolkata’s Old Silver Mint, a city landmark that is a crumbling symbol of Grecian architecture, will house a coins and currency museum after its revamp, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said here Monday.”There will be a coins and currency museum, a convention centre, there will be a theatre, park, heritage hotel, centre for children,” he told reporters after laying the foundation stone of the makeover project.

“These buildings are heritage buildings. This is a great opportunity to convert this property into a thriving, throbbing, bustling centre for culture, heritage, learning, education and entertainment,” Chidambaram said.

The foundation stone was laid by West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi.

This was Chidambaram’s first visit to the city after taking over the home affairs portfolio, but he refused to talk on issues related to his new job.

Minister of State for Finance and Parliamentary Affairs P.K. Bansal and state Finance Minister Asim Kumar Dasgupta were also present at the ceremony.

The project, costing around Rs.1.5 billion, will take three years to be completed.

The project is being executed by a consortium of firms comprising Eden Infra Projects Pvt Ltd (part of the Kolkata-based Eden City Group), D&F Construction Group, US and Ehrenkrantz Eckstut and Kuhn Architects, US, in public-private-partnership format with the government of India.

The structure, on Strand Road in central Kolkata, stands within a 12.5-acre compound off the Hooghly river. It was used for minting coins and casting 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.

Praising the state government for its cooperation in developing the project, Chidambaram said: “This should become something like the Lincoln Centre in New York, Kennedy Centre in Washington.”

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