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Hooghly’s Thames makeover kicks off

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday inaugurated a beautification project along the Hooghly river at Millennium Park

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata |
August 3, 2011 1:21:34 am

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday inaugurated a beautification project along the Hooghly river at Millennium Park,a move she said would “transform Kolkata into London”.

Two months back,Banerjee had met senior Railway and Kolkata Port Trust officials at Writers’ Buildings and set up an expert panel for the Hooghly riverfront beautification project.

The 10-km project is a joint venture between the central government and the state government,involving several nodal agencies such as the Kolkata Port Trust,Indian Railways,KMDA and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Initially,a 1-km pilot project will be taken up. The larger project stretches from Takta Ghat to Pramanik Ghat.

The cost of the pilot project,around Rs 36 crore,will be borne by the the West Bengal government’s Tourism Department.

The project management and consultancy will be done by the Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES),a Government of India enterprise under Indian Railways.

Mayor Shovan Chatterjee expressed the hope that the pilot project would be completed in six months.

Project co-ordinator of RITES,D C Mitra,said the entire 1-km bank,from Bajekadamtala Ghat to Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority’s (KMDA) Millennium Park,would be developed first.

He said several cultural,sports and educational nodes have been identified along the 10-km stretch. A 15-20 m wide pathway will also be constructed along the river front.

Mitra said there are also plans to develop Eden Gardens and set up modern inland water transport services.

Inaugurating the project,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised the earlier government for ignoring efforts to develop the riverfront. She said in spite of the Centre providing special funds,nothing was implemented.

She said coastal cities all over the world have been developed as major tourist attractions.

“We are planning to develop the Hooghly riverfront on the lines of the Thames river in London,” said Banerjee,adding that the rest of the project will be implemented on a public private partnership mode.

“Like in River Thames,there should be specially designed pathways,gateways and walkways. We will focus on a pollution-free Hooghly and restore all the old Ghats along the river bank,” said Banerjee.

She said several proposals had been received,which includes construction of a ropeway and a giant eye.

A host of Union and state government ministers and officials were present on the occasion.

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