Following Delhi government’s footsteps in organising car-free days, the state government is planning to soon make central Kolkata’s Lal Dighi and surrounding areas vehicle-free every weekend starting from Saturday evenings.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she has mooted a proposal to the commissioner of police and mayor of Kolkata to restrict traffic around the Lal Dighi area every weekend from 5 pm on Saturday till 10 pm Sunday, effective from early 2016.
“We have decided that the Lal Dighi area, where offices are closed on Saturdays after five, no vehicles will ply till Sunday night 10 pm,” the Chief minister said at the inauguration of Biswa Bangla Lok Sanskriti Utsav near the lake adjacent to Writers Buildings. “It might take some time to start the scheme and would start sometime next year,” she added.
“We have done a lot of similar changes in Digha, Darjeeling and Gangasagar. If people live with a peace of mind, they will prosper,” the CM said.
The 10-day programme ending on January 1 is being hosted on a unique floating stage on the Lal Dighi. Besides Lal Dighi, the festival is also being held at Princep Ghat on the banks of the Ganga. Lal Dighi or Dalhousie Square is surrounded by many heritage structures like the Writers’ Buildings, GPO and Currency Building.
During the event, Mamata also announced that the state government will provide a monthly honorarium of Rs 1,000 to about 50,000 traditional artists across West Bengal. “These are artists who have been neglected for a long time now. Our government will pay them an amount of Rs 1,000 per month. Besides, they will also get an opportunity to work in advertisements and promotional campaigns,” Mamata said.
She added that in order to boost dying art forms, these artists would get the opportunity to work in nearly four government utsavs every month. “Baul, Bhatiyali singers were nearly lost. We had made an endeavour to revive these forms of art and help these artists live with self respect,” she said.
The CM also tried her hands on the dhamsa, a traditional percussion instrument during the inauguration ceremony.