IIT-Kharagpur has collaborated with Rabindra Bharti University’s Department of Environmental Studies in order to give a makeover to the heritage areas of Kolkata. The two institutes launched their ‘Sustainable Ecological Development and Heritage Infrastructure’ program on Saturday, October 22.
The initiative is a part of the Sandhi project that comes under the Union HRD ministry. It will cover the modification and restoration of areas such as Kumartuli – a tourist attraction and College Street’s Boi Para market. The project is being led by Professor Joy Sen of IIT-Kharagpur.
Places like Kumartuli are of great cultural importance as it is a site where the sacred feminine is worshiped. To further add charm to the area, various discussion corners, information boards and community clusters of artisans will also be set up, informed Professor Sen.
He also informed that the first phase of the project will focus only on three prominent areas that are College Street, Kumartuli and the Gariahat market hawkers. Work is in progress to renovate these areas. Modern lighting system, street furniture and other such props are being developed to give the areas a makeover.
To renovate the Gariahat area, the institutes are planning to creatively reorganize the otherwise congested market area to give it a beautiful look. The professor said that all plans are in action and it is only a matter of getting the project on ground.
The second phase of the initiative will focus on developing the banks on either side of the Hooghly River. Around ten such projects will be started by the institutes in the future.
The sites that have been selected for the second phase are Nandan Film Complex, Kalighat, Rabindra Sarovar and Jorashankho (the home of Rabindranath Tagore). Another location that has been identified as a heritage structure is the New Market area.
Talks have been conducted with the urban development department regarding these resurrection proposals. Students, as well as professors of the Columbia University, will also be coming to Kolkata to help the institutes with these projects. Apart from construction, marketing these areas as major tourist attractions will be an integral part of the project.
Professor Sen also informed that another aim is to get featured in Lonely Planet. They have also been trying to get travel agents like Cox and Kings and different airlines on board in to boost marketing of Kolkata tourism and provide funding for the project.