Tuesday, August 3

Kolkata: Leisure hub at old port workshop

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A disused workshop on 32 acres and nearly 600 metres of riverfront in Kidderpore will be turned into a leisure zone by Kolkata port authority under Phase-I of a project to put surplus land in the city for sustainable use.

The land is next to the old clock tower of Kolkata Port Trust that has now been renamed as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port Trust (SPMPT) and the Indenture Memorial, from where thousands of indentured labourers had left the country to form the Indian diaspora.

“We have engaged experts to prepare a final report. There will be private investment. We will only facilitate them by creating infrastructure like jetties. The heritage clock tower and Indenture Museum are attractions for people. Our aim is to develop a river cruise terminal by repairing the existing jetty at the Indenture Memorial. There are also some old Tea Transit (TT) sheds that we will revamp to create space for private operators to set up restaurants, amusement parks or other attractions. Plots will be let out on lease,” said Vinit Kumar, chairman, SPMPT.

According to Kumar, there can be an amphitheatre along with gardens and fountains to attract both city residents and tourists. The idea is to throw open the city’s riverfront to all, ensuring them leisure and entertainment in a safe environment.

“The location is also close to the heart of the city. People can move through Hastings and then cross the swing-bridge to reach the spot. There is also tremendous potential for cruise tourism along the river. Cruises are already operating from Kolkata to Varanasi and Dhaka. We can also have proper cruises to the Sundarbans,” Kumar added.

The Kolkata port owns large plots in the city, Haldia, Howrah and other districts. The ministry of shipping is now keen to utilise all port lands that have not been used for operational purposes. There are two reasons for this. One is to earn revenue and the other is to prevent encroachment. SPMPT will also use its land in Balagarh, Hooghly for cargo evacuation. Plots in Haldia have also been offered for commercial use.

Satinder Pal Singh, joint secretary, ministry of shipping, said efforts are on to promote coastal tourism and link rivers to the sea. “The ministry of shipping wants to use surplus land profitably by setting up townships, clusters and industrial hubs,” Singh added. While port land is already being let out for townships in Mumbai, a detailed plan for Kolkata is awaited.


Source: Times of India

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