IIT-Kharagpur, along with the Department of Environmental Studies at Rabindra Bharti University, on Saturday launched their “Sustainable Ecological Development and Heritage Infrastructure’’ at the university in Jorashankho, in order to give a makeover to Kolkata heritage areas.
The initiative, which is being carried out under the Sandhi project of the Union HRD ministry, will assist in the upgradation and “resurrection” of areas like Kumartuli and College Street’s Boi Para market. Professor Joy Sen, who is spearheading the project on behalf of IIT-Kharagpur, said while Kumartuli is already a tourist attraction, such places have not been constructively upgraded or marketed so far.
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“Kumartuli is a place where the sacred feminine is worshipped. So it is of great cultural importance as well,” he says.
Prof Sen says that apart from rejuvenating Kumartuli, information boards, discussion corners and “community clusters” of artisans are also to be organised.
He added that for the first phase of the project, three areas of interest have been identified – Kumartuli, College Street and the Gariahat market hawkers.
“A lot of the work for these three areas are done, such as designing of street furniture, lighting etc… We simply need to get the projects on the ground now and launch the pilots,’’says Prof Sen.
For Gariahat – one of the most popular and congested markets in the city where the pavements are taken over entirely by hawkers – the project aims at beautifying and organising the area.
The next phase of the project involves the resurrection of the banks on either side of the Hooghly river.
“There are around ten projects which will be identified here. While some of these places may not fall strictly in Kolkata, they nevertheless fall in the Kolkata metropolitan area,” says Prof Sen.
The third phase the project has identified Rabindra Sarovar, Nandan Film Complex, Jorashankho (the home of Rabindranath Tagore) and Kalighat. New Market has also been identified as a heritage market area.
“Yesterday, we even had a meeting with the urban development department for the proposals.
In January, professors and students from Columbia University will be coming to Kolkata to help us with these projects,” he says, adding that an integral part of the project is marketing these areas as major tourist attractions.
“We are trying to get featured in Lonely Planet. We are involving travel agents like Cox and Kings as well as different airlines to try and market Kolkata through them. We are in the process of creating innovative packages.
“We will also be inviting bodies such as the CII and Assocham and other industries to help us with funding the project,” says Prof Sen.
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