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Star-crossed Salt Lake cinema fans civic discord

There’s a rift in the script of the CPM-controlled Bidhannagar Municipality involving takeover of the only cinema in the township. Shivam, in Salt Lake’s DD block, remains closed 10 years after its construction as the municipality has not allowed the hall to open its doors, citing “technical flaws”.

“The municipality had been offered the hall for Rs 70 lakh but we have decided against buying it, as the proposal does not seem viable,” said Tapan Talukdar, chairman-in-council of Bidhannagar Municipality. However, municipality sources, as well as those within the CPM, revealed that the buy-out was still under consideration. “The hall is an awarded property of the Variable Energy Cyclotrone Centre, who sent a proposal through the urban development department for disposing of the hall,” a senior municipality official told Metro on Monday.

“A team of key civic officials went to the hall last week to estimate the cost of bringing it into an operative state,” the official disclosed.

Those in favour of buying the hall argue that with the building, on a 20-cottah plot, coming at a much lower price — the value of the construction has been estimated at Rs 1.5 crore — the municipality would gain financially.

Besides, there is a longstanding demand from the township’s residents for a cinema. “There is no cinema in Salt Lake and if the municipality can bear the completion cost, it can generate a lot of revenue,” an official said.

“That apart, auditoria are in demand all year, as block committees and other organisations hold functions. There aren’t very many halls in the township to cater to this demand. Shivam can be rented out for such functions, too,” he added.

Those opposing the deal say the renovation cost would be too steep for the cash-strapped municipality. The cinema was built by a private party more than 10 years ago. However, it was not granted a completion certificate as the municipality said there were “technical defects”. The number of seats was much less and there was no air-conditioning system, civic officials said.

The owner had later allegedly turned the hall into a godown for batteries.

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