Mamata kick-starts Kolkata’s ‘London makeover’ (Lead)

August 2nd, 2011 - 11:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Aug 2 (IANS) In a step towards fulfilling her poll pledge of sprucing up Kolkata to match London, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday kick-started an ambitious project for beautification of a stretch along the Ganges.

The pilot project, to be completed in six months, will involve beautification of a one kilometre stretch along the banks of the Ganga river. Later, the project will be extended up to nine more kilometres along the river bank, upto the city’s southern fringes.

“We have plans of beautifying Kolkata for a long time. We have taken up London as the theme. This project will propel eco-friendly tourism,” said Banerjee.

“We have seen big roads in London. But we have space crunch in Kolkata. But if we plan it, we can make the city more beautiful,” she said after inaugurating the pilot project at Millennium Park on the river bank.

Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Indian Railways have teamed up with the state government for the project that aims to turn the riverfront into a heritage cultural zone.

D.C. Mitra, project coordinator of RITES (Rail India Technical and Economic Services) - the agency engaged in preparing the master plan on river front beautification and its uses - said: “A 15-20 metre wide pathway will be made along the one kilometre stretch.”

The cost of around Rs.36 crore for the pilot project will be borne entirely by the state tourism department.

“All the ghats that come under this one kilometre stretch will be fully restored as many of them are in very bad shape,” said Mitra.

He added that a comprehensive plan formulated for the overall project by the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, has identified nodal points for cultural and entertainment centres, which would be part of the scheme.

The project also includes setting up of a cultural node in the northern fringes, ‘Kolkata Square’, an open-air theatre, and a ‘Water Shrine’ along the river.

A ‘Kolkata Eye’, inspired by the London Eye ferris wheel, besides places for meditation, food outlets, parks, an art gallery and museum, as also landscaped paths are part of the overall project.

There are also plans of setting up a Gateway of Kolkata near the iconic Howrah bridge and a literary square known as the ‘Bengal Renaissance’ near Mayer Ghat at Bagbazar.

Banerjee also blamed the previous Left Front government for siphoning off central funds sanctioned under the Ganga action plan.

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