Kolkata Awakes – Kolkata, India

Kolkata Awakes
Kolkata, India

Buddhadev Bhattacharji, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, has large visions for Kolkata. He has accepted the fact that for the state to prosper, business and industry must return and the combined efforts of all concerned will certainly bring back the old glory of Kolkata.

Recently, he gave positive indications during the 10th Kolkata Film Festival. A huge fairground is under consideration with assistance of the central government. Likely to be situated near the Science City, it has to be completed within 24 months from the go ahead.

The latest in thing in Kolkata is a wedding mall where all marriage goods can be had under one roof! Built up on 20,000 square feet of area, its investment outlay is of the order of Rs 10 crores. Most of the space is reserved for bridal goods with hardly 1,000 square feet earmarked for the groom! The promoters expect an average of 1,500 customers every day and business potential of the order of Rs 35 crores annually.

Googly is a special type of bowling where the batsman is deceived by the grip of the bowler – obviously, he experiences difficulty in playing to such bowling since he does not get the type of ball he anticipates.

For quite some time now, criticism has been heaped on West Bengal in general and Kolkata in particular – namely, Bengalis are losing out on the favorite saying ‘what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow’. There is no need to go into the reasons for arriving at such conclusions. Suffice it to say that the authorities are turning corners. During my recent visit to Kolkata, I asked the taxi driver – what is new in Kolkata and pat came the reply ‘flyovers!’ Yes, these massive structures have certainly eased the terrible traffic snarls that one used to face earlier.

Now for some more googlies –

A horse drawn tram car is planned to be introduced shortly in order to bring us closer to Nature. Its station will be located at Babu Ghat and, initially, a 1 kilometre track will be laid. The facilities will be available from 4.30 to 6.30 in the evenings – the 15 minute ride will take you past the pagoda and let you have a wonderful view of the Hoogly River. The horses will be taken from the Kolkata Mounted Police and the body of the tram will be of fiber glass while its wheels will be of wood. Plans are also afoot to have a Botanical garden, a nature trail and a jogger’s park in the Eden gardens. Entry will be chargeable and season tickets will be available. If everything goes as per plan, the tram car can be thrown open to the public by mid-2005.

Simultaneously, a Heritage Park is planned opposite the Rabindra Sadan and adjacent to the Victoria Memorial. To be laid out on a 5 acre plot of land at a cost of approximately Rs 5 crores, there will be statues of the Victorian era positioned in the park like the light posts which will also be of the vintage types, with subdued lighting to recreate the era of gas lights!! There will be a podium and a stage with seating arrangement for conducting open air programs. To make the layout more attractive, there will be three lotus ponds and five fountains. This park is expected to be released to the public by April 2005.

The above two projects involve the state government, the central government and the Kolkata Corporation – since the three entities sing different political tunes, let us hope that in the larger interest they bury their differences and give to Kolkata its dues. It is understood that sponsors will be welcome.

To come to some more googlies –

Plans have been finalized for the construction of a 5 storied building to be situated opposite the VIP market in Kankurgachi. To be called the ‘Food House’, this unique building will house cuisines from different continents in different floors!! The atmosphere of each floor will reflect the culture of that area – all these will be depicted through music, murals, paintings, dress etc.

Similarly, a new company with private funding is making its debut – it will launch river services to transport food products from different districts of Bengal to the centralized markets in Kolkata. Potato from the Hoogly district, mangoes from Maldah, paddy from Burdwan, fish from Digha – all will come to Kolkata via water. It seems this will be considerably cheaper than the existing road transport systems. The service is planned for launch with a fleet of three steamers by March 2005.

These two projects are with private funding and expectations of Kolkattans are high. Let us hope that they are not disappointed.