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Mamata kicks off 41st Book Fair, connoisseurs turn up in droves

The 41st edition of International Kolkata Book Fair (IKBF2017) was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday at Milan Mela ground. This largest attended book fair began on Wednesday, will conclude on February 5.

Banerjee in her inaugural speech acknowledged the event organisers for their tough grind. "I salute the organisers for putting up the impressive event. The fair which has been a big draw for bookworms over the years is an integral part of our lives," she said.

Costa Rica is said to be the focal theme of the fair and Banerjee expressed her gratitude to the senior officials of Costa Rica for co-operating with the organisers. "Costa Rica is an eco-friendly country," she said.

The humming bird capital, Costa Rica is the only country which does not have a national army. "Instead of spending money on strengthening the military forces, this country contributes money for the education of its citizens," she added.

To celebrate 70 years of diplomatic ties between Russia and India, IKBF 2017 will see the nation as a special participant. The fair will also witness the participation of foreign countries like UK, USA, France, China, Japan, Vietnam, 11 Latin American countries and Bangladesh. Publishers from various Indian states including Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Telangana, Punjab, Kerala, and Delhi will be showcased in the fair.

Renowned publishers like Ananda, Deys, Aajkal, Patra Bharati, Puthipatra, Macmillan and Mitra Ghosh put up their stalls. This time, small magazine stalls dealing with children's literature also featured in the mix. Many stalls will pick themes to celebrate Subhash Chandra Bose's 75th year of mysterious disappearance.

To deal with the cash crunch due to demonetisation, the organisers have set up adequate ATMs and other digital payment facilities in the fair. "We have set up mobile ATMS in many stalls. Around 14 to 15 ATMS are expected to be set up," said a senior organiser. He also said that the customers could pay via E-wallets.

The fair is expected to have as many as 600 stalls and 200 magazine stalls. Five huge halls will be home to English publications. These halls will be named after Mahasweta Devi, Syed Samsul Haque, Neil Aloysius O'Brien, Umberto Eco and father Detienne.

The State Bank of India (SBI) is said to put up a special branch for the customers.

The bank authorities have decided to install free Wi-Fi in the fair for assisting the customers in paying digitally.
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