January 28, 2009 4:45:36 am
The 33rd International Kolkata Book Fair,which was inaugurated by Scottish author Alexendar McCall Smith on Tuesday,will be open for the general public from Wednesday.
But even as the organisers were preparing to launch the 10-day event,the fair ground at Milanmela was in a complete mess with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBDIC) not been able to properly level the ground or adopt basic firefighting norms at the venue. The ground also lacked a much-needed parking lot.
Although Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had declared a package of Rs 43 crore for the development of Milanmela ground,a senior WBIDC official said: Despite promises made by the Centre and the state government earlier,we have not yet received any kind of grant from them. The corporation is facing a huge shortage of funds.
He also pointed out that the state government failed to keep its promise of developing a permanent fair ground for the 33rd International Kolkata Book Fair,though three years have passed since the work on the fair ground was taken up by the WBIDC.
The members of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild,on the other hand,are still optimistic about organising the next book fair at the Maidan.
The court case due to which the book fair was shifted to the Milanmela is pending in the Supreme Court. We are awaiting the verdict. But we can still think positive about taking the fair back to Maidan as the chief minister is supportive on the issue, said Ashok Dey,president,Publishers and Booksellers Guild.
Interestingly,the state government was ignorant about the deplorable state of the Milanmela ground until the Industrial India Trade Fair was inaugurated on December 23. When several companies backed off from the IITF after visiting the fair ground,Bhattacharjee extended his support to the Milanmela authorities by reducing the rent of the ground,troubled by several infrastructural problems.
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