To commemorate the November 13 terror attack in France, which saw 130 people dying, and as a mark of solidarity against terror, the West Bengal government is now constructing a scale model of the Eiffel Tower in Rajarhat, neighbouring Kolkata.
Though at 55-metres, the replica will be about six times smaller than the iconic 324-metre structure in Paris, it will still be about as tall as an 18-storey building. The foundation stone for the project, to be built by the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO), will be lain on November 28 at Eco Park.
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“The idea is to show our solidarity with those who died in the attack in Paris earlier this month. It was a gruesome attack and whether it is Paris or Kolkata, the loss of human lives can’t be tolerated,” said state urban development minister Firhad Hakim.
The minister, who will be laying the foundation stone of the project, added that it will take about three years to complete the structure.
The Consul General of France in Kolkata, Damien Syed, has also been invited to the foundation laying ceremony. “At a later stage, we will look to tie up with the French consulate in Kolkata with respect to the structure. We want it to symbolise, not just peace, but also the long connections between France and Bengal,” a senior government official said.
The Eiffel Tower replica is going to be a part of the “Seven Wonders of the World” theme-park at the Eco Park in Rajarhat. Incidentally, the original plan for the “wonders” being replicated at the park didn’t include the Eiffel Tower. Only the Taj Mahal from India, Christ the Redeemer from Brazil, Chichen Itza from Mexico, the Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Colosseum in Rome had been chosen. After the terror attack in the French capital, the state government decided to include the iconic tower in the list of monuments being replicated at the park and plan was given the clearance within days, said sources.
Like the original monument, the replica tower will also have two tiers where tourists can climb up to the observation room, at a height of 25 meters from the ground, and get a panoramic view of the city. Apart from two elevators, the building plan also includes a coffee shop and a souvenir shop.
The Institute for Steel Development and Growth has prepared the architectural and structural designs of the Eiffel prototype, HIDCO officials said, adding artist Rupchand Kunda has been commissioned to design the replica.
“The location is adjacent to a large lake and the idea is that when the tower is lit up, it will be reflected in the water body. The architect for the project has been chosen and the team has been studying the original design. An estimated 300 tonnes of steel will be utilised for the project,” said a government official, adding that the 18-storey limit was mandatory as per the city’s building bye laws.
Kolkata already boasts of a Big Ben, a scaled down version of the clock tower by the same name at London’s Westminster.