Kolkata riverfront snippets
Indonesia-based businessman Prasoon Mukherjee has shown interest in developing Hooghly’s riverfront along both its eastern and western banks. Mukherjee met senior government officials and expressed his intent to amalgamate various blueprints prepared by different agencies in the past to spruce up the waterfront and add sheen to the city’s image. Mukherjee met officials of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority, Kolkata Port Trust and Kolkata Police. Derelict warehouses and crumbling ghats on the eastern bank of Hooghly and closed factories on the western bank have led to the river’s dissociation with Kolkata and its twin city Howrah. Incidentally, the earlier initiative on waterfront development had fallen through as port authorities had felt slighted at being persistently ignored by other agencies involved in the project. This time round, the government did not make the mistake. Chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti said that concerted planning was required on both sides of the river. There are several legal tangles to be overcome, particularly reclaiming land from owners of closed factories and illegally occupied godowns. While officials have assured Mukherjee that they would go through his proposal in detail, sources said the government isn’t decided on whether the public-private partnership project would involve only Mukherjee as the private partner or form a consortium of interested parties. Mukherjee himself remained mum on the proposal when reporters confronted him. The proposal includes restoration of warehouses along Strand Road and to establish hubs of commercial and entertainment activity to draw citizens to the waterfront.