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Celebs hail Mamata's London plan

Last updated on: July 14, 2011 15:12 IST

Celebs hail Mamata's London plan

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Supratik Sengupta in Kolkata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's promise to turn Kolkata into another London has received mixed response from the people of the city, with many appreciating it as a statement of good intent but Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Bikash Bhattacharya describing it as a pipe dream.

Celebrities like veteran Bengali actor and chairman of the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute Ranjit Mullick and percussionist Tanmoy Bose want Mamata's promise to be viewed not in its face value but in its spirit.

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Image: The Victoria Memorial, Kolkata.

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"Her intention is good," said Mullick, a prolific actor.

However, the Chief Minister's statement drew sharp criticism from CPI-M leader and former Kolkata mayor Bhattacharya who described it as 'childlike'.

"Without any change in ground realities, you can only dub such a statement as childish," Bhattacharya told PTI in Kolkata.

The former mayor was particularly critical of the statement made by Banerjee after she became the Chief Minister that a tower like the famous London Eye on the Thames would be built.

He said improving the city's infrastructure should be given more importance.

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Image: The London Bridge.

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Celebs hail Mamata's London plan

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"Mere cosmetic changes will not turn it into an European city," he said.

However, Mullick said, "If Mamata wants an edifice like London Eye coming up on the Ganga banks, what is the harm? Think about the Thames bank. Such edifices will only contribute towards improving the dirty river bank."

The former mayor also felt that instead of making ambitious but 'unrealistic' plans, Banerjee should concentrate on making the city more livable with improvement in basic amenities for people such as conservancy, sewerage and roads.

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Image: Mamata Banerjee.
Photographs: Reuters
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Bhattacharya argued that instead of creating another icon like the Ferris Wheel in London, the existing heritage structures like the Victoria Memorial, Sahid Minar monument (formerly Ochterlony Monument) and Howrah Bridge should be maintained.

Internationally known percussionist Tanmoy Bose put faith in Mamata's drive to beautify the city, saying he had already found evidence of it on the arterial Southern Avenue and some other parts of the city.

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Image: Pranab Mukherjee shares the dais with Mamata Banerjee.
Photographs: Reuters
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"Kolkata had been steadily losing its premier status. I often discuss about our favourite city with Pandit Ravishankar who, having a soft corner for the city, said it was once in the same league as Paris," Tanmoy Bose, who recently shared the stage with Elton John, said.

On what would be his suggestions to Banerjee, Bose said if asked, he would urge the Chief minister to restore Kolkata's lost culture and to hold more showcase events like the Bangla Sanskriti Sammelan of the 70s which used to draw people from all sections of society.

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Image: A hawker sells computer and electronic spare parts on a pavement in Kolkata.
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
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Another luminary magician P C Sorcar (Junior) said the call to turn Kolkata into London was only intended to improve things in the decaying city rather than superimposing London into the City of Joy.

"Such a move will undoubtedly lead to better civic policing and instill basic discipline among residents.

"She is trying to to make things work and must be welcomed," Sorcar (Junior) said.

Banerjee had also expressed her government's desire to make 'Sunderbans like African Safari' and 'Darjeeling like Switzerland' in Delhi recently.

Meanwhile, she has already announced the formal roll-out of the Ganga river front beautification plan from early next month.


Image: Vidyasagar Setu that connects Howrah with Kolkata.
Photographs: Rediff Archives.
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