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Sarobar entry fee put on hold

Stung by public criticism, the Calcutta Improvement Trust (CIT) has temporarily shelved its decision to impose entry fees on joggers and morning-walkers at the newly-constructed Padmapukur on the Rabindra Sarobar campus. The lake was thrown open on March 1.

“Though we need the funds, we will have to put on hold the proposed entry fee. Instead, we have launched a survey to gauge the public mood. If most people speak in favour of the fee, we may consider imposing it in the months ahead,” CIT chief engineer Anil Das said on Wednesday.

Adults will be charged Rs 5 for a stroll in the lake. Chief engineer Das said the move to assess public opinion on the proposed fee follows a directive from state urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya.

Officials said the survey will help the minister counter criticism from Sougata Roy, Trinamul Congress legislator from Dhakuria, and Rabin Deb, CPM legislator from the adjoining Ballygunge Assembly segment. Both of them had publicly opposed the imposition of entry fees when the lake was thrown open by Union minister of state for forests and tourism T.R. Balu two months ago.

Das claimed most morning-walkers had suggested that a lump-sum be charged as annual fees, instead of daily entry fees. “We are not ruling out the suggestion, as it has come from a majority,” he added.

The CIT will soon float a tender, inviting private contractors to take over the lake on a lease and collect fees from visitors for its maintenance.

Also on Wednesday, the CIT sent a reminder to the authorities of the Lions Safari Park, as their lease had expired in 1998. “The CIT will take over the park and have it run by a private contractor who, too, will impose entry fees for its maintenance,” Das maintained.

CIT officials said a reminder would also be sent to the representatives of different clubs on the Sarobar campus, asking them to pay the hiked rent with arrears since 1998. “We have already informed the clubs about the raised rent but received no feedback. So, we have convened a meeting some time next week with the club representatives,” the officials maintained.

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