Cultural heritage takes centre stage at Calcutta Talks
“People associated with heritage preservation are mainly concerned with built-in structures like palaces, monuments etc., but non-built heritage which has played a major role in history has so far missed the eyes of scholars,” noted essayist and Principal Secretary, Transport department, Alapan Bandopadhyay said on Friday.
He was delivering a speech at the inaugural programme of Calcutta Talks organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCC&I) at the Chamber premises Friday evening.
Raising a peculiar issue, Bandopadhyay said Kolkata has an equally important history of underground sewer lines and water supply lines. The sewer line was set up in 1878 and was the third of its kind after London and Hamburg.
Similarly, the first pumping station was set up at Mullickghat way back in 1846, even before the Sepoy Mutiny. After the Mutiny, the British Government gave attention to improving the city’s public health and various steps were taken.
The Dhobi khana in South Kolkata is a classical example of the colonial municipalisation or urbanisation policy. He said the 42 inch diameter pipes, which were installed connecting Palta Water works and Tallah, are still functioning.
Noted lawyer and former advocate general Anindya Mitra said the hawkers in the 1950s, 60s and 70s used to sell different kinds of goods. In the evening, not only kulfi malai made of milk but even fruits were sold.
The lunch at Firpos and dinner at Oberoi used to cost eight to eight and a half annas in the 1950s. Rich people from all over India used to come to Kolkata to enjoy Christmas.
Ambarish Dasgupta, former president of BCC&I said that prospective investors also examine the heritage of a place before pumping money into it. “When I look at the first ship that touched the shore of Calcutta and which later brought investment centuries ago, the same history may be repeated with the opening of Tajpur port in 2020.”