With the book fair entering its fourth day at the Milan Mela fair ground which is still under construction,State Industries Minister Nirupam Sen,along with senior officials of the West Bengal Industry Development Corporation (WBIDC),visited the fair ground to take stock of the infrastructural facilities.
In a meeting with the representatives of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild,state the government assured that the infrastructure at the fair ground would be in place by the next year.
The lack of infrastructure,besides inconveniencing the book lovers in the city,has also meant losses in revenue for the government,which charges rent from the organisers. The organisers have demanded a huge cut in the rent which the government has agreed to.
The state government has agreed on the reduction of fees for the fair ground from Rs 1.02 crore to Rs 38 lakh, said Sudhanshu Dey,general secretary of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild.
With about 732 stalls (532 book stalls and 200 little magazine stalls ),the book fair opened on January 27 and will continue till February 9.The fair ground does not have a transformer for proper arrangement of electricity,no water supply system and not even adequate fire-fighting measures.
The government cannot provide these facilities in the next nine days but in the meeting today,it assured us that by the next year,all the facilities for an open air fair ground will be made available, said an official of the Guild. The committee that will upgrade the book fair will have two representatives of the Guild.
Besides infrastructure,the state government also plans to construct two underpasses and an over bridge connecting the fair ground to the Science City. It also plans to build a service road in front of the ground like Science City. If the government upgrades the infrastructure next year,the fees will be decided accordingly,the representatives of the Guild said.
The issue of whether the Maidan can be the venue for the book fair in future is not yet resolved. The minister told us it would be up to the Guild to choose the venue but the infrastructure of Milan Mela would be upgraded so that the ground can host any big fair as the Kolkata Book Fair, said Dey.