KMC takes first step to develop Mayer Bari, rehabilitates 35 slum families
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's plan of developing Heritage Tourism with a total renovation of Mayer Bari in Bagbazar took a major stride on Saturday with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation handing over keys of apartments to 35 families who lived in slums located just opposite to Mayer Bari.
"We will be coming up with 300 flats, each with an area of 300 square feet, and all the slum dwellers will be gradually relocated there. We have set a time frame of six months each for completing a single block. There will be a total of 15 such blocks that will be handed over. The first block is being handed over to 35 families today (Saturday)," said Mayor Firhad Hakim at a programme near Mayer Bari in Bagbazar. The funds for the project was first sanctioned under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) when it was agreed that the Centre would allocate 60 percent and state will be giving 40 percent.
"However the NDA government after coming to power in 2014 washed its hands off the fund allotment. It was Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who announced that the renovation will be taken up with funds being provided by the state government. We are spending Rs 30 crore for the entire project," Hakim added. Minister of State for Women and Child Welfare Shashi Panja, who is also the local MLA, said there were attempts to create division among people in the area but all hurdles have now been cleared.
"The slum dwellers have willingly agreed to vacate their houses and move to apartments which we are constructing for them. I will appeal to all residents not to be carried away by any rumour. The government will ensure that nobody is deprived," Panja maintained.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), with funds allocated by the state government, will come up with a vocational training centre and a children's park after relocating the slum. The stretch around the heritage building will also be beautified and then decked up with illuminative lights to give it a majestic look.
Ramakrishna Paramhansha's wife Sarada Devi had lived at the two-storeyed house off Bagbazar Street, known as Mayer Bari, for 11 years (1909-1920). Hundreds of devotees and tourists from India and abroad throng the building every day.
"The narrow lane leading to Mayer Bari is a major hassle, especially during festivals when thousands of devotees line up to pay homage to Sree Sree Maa. The roads will also be widened in view of this to make it easier for devotees to visit the place," a senior official of the KMC said.