From a den of vice to a destination in the heart of Calcutta’s business district that will showcase the city’s cultural heritage, offer multi-dimensional entertainment and generate revenue through commercially viable projects, like paid parking and shopping blocks. Welcome to Curzon Park’s new avatar.
After years of its keep-away-after-dark image, the state government has decided to impose an entry fee of Rs 2 for those who use the park. A composite urban renewal project will transform the 11-acre park into an open-air arena for cultural functions. Fees for holding events inside the arena are yet to be finalised.
The Public Works Department has already handed over the park to the forest department, which has been entrusted with the task of giving it a major facelift and turning it into an urban recreational centre as part of the riverfront beautification scheme.
A spokesman in the forest department said that the success of Millennium Park, on the bank of the Hooghly, has prompted the state government move to beautify and restructure both Curzon Park and Chowringhee Park. The latter was created after the completion of Metro Railway, across Lindsay Street.
“Our first job will be to ensure proper greenery to attract people and make the place a soothing rendezvous. Hence, the park will have a manicured carpet of grass, rows of dazzling flowerbeds and sufficient lighting arrangements”, said forest officer Somnath Mukherjee. “We are planning to impose a Rs-2 entry fee per head to make the park self-sustaining,” he added.
Till now, the main gate of the park was shut after sundown, but a small inlet was left open to allow all kinds of sleazy activities inside. The unseemly reputation of the place has completely alienated the family crowd and the casual visitor.
With Curzon Park set to get a makeover, the state government has requested mayor Subrata Mukherjee to take up a beautification scheme for Chowringhee Park as well, with the help of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA).
“We are a partner of the state government in carrying out Phase II of the riverfront beautification programme and we will start working on Chowringhee Park soon,” said Mukherjee.
The revamping of the two parks was scheduled to be completed by January, but ran into roadblocks put up by the police and Fort William. The city police had initially refused permission for the Chowringhee Park project. They relented after the CMC managed to obtain the go-ahead from Eastern Command officials, on condition that the area would not be used for commercial purposes, like putting up billboards or kiosks.