The West Bengal Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBHIDCO) is considering a proposal to improve the waterfront beside the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre which is in the offing.
The proposal was taken up after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on the way to Murshidabad, asked senior officials who were accompanying her in train to upgrade the waterbody and see if floating markets on boats could be made. WBHIDCO chairman Debashis Sen took up the matter with the principal secretary of Irrigation and Waterways department and it was decided that the department would conduct a survey to examine the quality of water. The assistance of the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) would be taken to do the project.
Floating markets are quite famous in Hong Kong. Interestingly, Swami Vivekananda on his way to USA to attend the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 had referred to the market in one of his letter written to his brother monk. The Aberdeen floating village in Hong Kong consisting mostly of fishermen is world famous. The total estimated boat dwellers in 1841 was 2,000. It went up to 150,000 in 1963 and 40,000 in 1982. The area has come up as a major tourist spot.
In New Town, vegetable and fish vendors used Bagjola canal to come to Northern suburbs to sell their products. This has been going on for generations together. A floating market will change not only the ambience of the area but also help people buy fresh food and vegetables.
It may be mentioned that after coming to power in 2011, Mamata Banerjee had taken several steps to give New Town a contemporary and modern look. The Left Front government which developed New Town did not make any comprehensive plan and did not make any provision to supply filtered water from river Hooghly to the residents.
Banerjee asked WBHIDCO to develop the huge waterbody and named it as Prakriti Tirtha of Eco Park. The park has recorded a footfall of 52 lakh people. There are eight children’s parks and one park for the senior citizens. Steps have been taken to increase the green cover in the area and 40,000 tree saplings have been planted along with setting up of nurseries to raise tall trees. The use of solar power and rainwater harvesting are being done to convert the area into a green city, Banerjee’s dream project.