It’s been the talking point of those circling BBD Bag in vain for a parking spot. Or of those hoping to find their city hub slightly more presentable. Now, finally, there’s good news for Calcuttans — the great Dalhousie dream, woven around an underground parking plaza and a beautified Laldighi, isn’t that distant anymore.
Having put in place the basic plan of action, the government has invited proposals from private players to undertake the task of constructing the area’s first multi-layered underground car-park opposite Writers’ Buildings. Senior Public Works Department (PWD) officials said build-operate-transfer (BOT) proposals had been sought within December 27.
A plan had been prepared by architect Dulal Mukherjee for the PWD (reported in Metro last year) to cope with the acute parking problem in the city’s nerve-centre. But the project was pushed to the backburner for over four years because of an acute cash crunch. Now, to ensure that the grand plan sees the light of day, a pitch for a private promoter is being made.
“Lack of funds is the main reason we are going for the project on a BOT basis. We hope there will be a favourable response to our proposal,” said S.R. Banerjee, technical adviser to the PWD minister.
According to the plan drawn up by the PWD, the two-tier underground parking lot will have 1,000-car capacity. The cost of construction has been estimated at Rs 20 crore, with an additional Rs 5 crore thrown in for beautification. “The surface will be converted into a stretch of green, with benches along the banks of Laldighi. This will create a look and feel befitting such a spot in the city’s business hub surrounded by heritage structures,” added Banerjee.
The underground car park will come up at the existing L-shaped parking lot covering the western and northern flanks of Laldighi. For this, the existing tram tracks will have to be relocated. PWD officials said the details of the project would have to be discussed with the BOT agent chosen for the task. “For example, we are yet to decide whether the cars will be driven underground on slopes or taken down in elevators. We leave that to the firm,” said an official.
At present, about 500 cars are parked on the western and northern sides of Laldighi. The spots are invariably filled up with vehicles from various government departments in Writers’ Buildings. “If we can make arrangements for at least 1,500 cars in the proposed parking lot, more road-space can be left for motorists and traffic flow in the area will be much smoother,” said B.K. Sadhu, chief traffic and transportation engineer of the transport department.
Sadhu added: “Nearly 2,000 cars are parked in the BBD Bag area during office hours. Apart from the existing parking space opposite Writers’ Buildings, people leave their cars near Fairlie Place, India Exchange Place, Poddar Court, R.N. Mukherjee Road and Ganesh Chandra Avenue.”
PWD officials — pushing for clearances from the environment department, fire services departments and state heritage commission — said the capacity of the car park could be increased in the final design stages.