The state government has requested the Publishers & Booksellers Guild, the organiser of the International Kolkata Book Fair, to keep the fair free from politics.
Firhad Hakim, state urban development minister, said at Nabanna that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday held a meeting with the agencies involved in organising the fair.
He said that it has been requested to the organiser to keep the fair apolitical. “Guild is the organiser of the fair. We cannot impose any decision on the body. This is a democratic country. Guild can only take final decision about the fair. We have just placed a request before them,” said Hakim.
It may be recalled that erstwhile Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and his party had taken grip over the fair. Bhattacharya used to visit the fair everyday and spend some time at the mela office. His stooges were given various benefits during his tenure.
Hakim said the International Kolkata Book Fair is like a festival in the state. “It is a place of culture, creativity and education. Thus it would be better if the place remain free from politics. It will be good if no one use the fair as a political platform,” he said.
When asked whether any political party will be allowed to set up stalls in the fair, Hakim said: “It will be decided by the guild.”
The fair will be inaugurated on January 25 and it will be open for book lover from January 27 to February 7. The fair at Milan Mela ground will remain open from 12 noon to 8 pm every day. Those interested to set up stalls can decorate their own stall as per their requirement. The pathways between bookstalls in the fair will be wider this time compared to that of the previous year.
In connection with the fair, he said necessary steps are also being taken to provide better amenities to people who will visit the fair. There will be parking lot on a plot of around 4 acre and it will help to avoid traffic congestion in the area.
Steps have been taken to control dust that poses serious threat to book lovers. They do not have to risk their lives to cross the busy EM Bypass to reach the fair as there are subways connecting from the side of Parama police station to Science City and the other one connecting Science City and Milan Mela ground.
Initiatives have been taken to assure sufficient supply of safe drinking water and there will be more bio-toilets compared that of the previous years.