The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eat in orbit, mart blooms below
- Four floors for flower sales by the Hooghly, with revolving restaurant atop them

If the giant ferris wheel London Eye can rotate on the bank of the Thames, why can’t a restaurant revolve on the bank of the Hooghly, opposite Howrah station' If that wasn’t exactly the logic behind planning a revolving restaurant on top of the proposed flower market next to Mullickghat, the state government surely intends to construct something spectacular next to the Millennium Park.

A global tender for design and construction will be called for the Rs 10-crore to Rs 12-crore market, one of the most striking features of which will be a capsule lift.

Sudhangshu Sil, CPM legislator, who is also vice-chairman of the CMDA tender committee and chairman of the Mullickghat Phool Byabasayi Parichalana Samity, has been planning over the past two years to clean the flower market of the piles of rotting leaves and blooms on Strand Bank Road and build a four-storeyed flower market next to the ghat of the same name. He says the Calcutta Port Trust has granted “permissive possession” of 35,000 sq ft to the horticultural department of the state government, which has taken it on a lease of Re 1. Next to Howrah bridge, Mullickghat with a spectacular dome was built in 1855 by Ram Mohun Mullick.

However, to build the new flower market, permission will have to be sought from the Centre, and both chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and member of Parliament Somnath Chatterjee have written to Shatrughan Sinha, shipping minister, to clear the project. The FAR available on each floor of this ground-plus-four structure will be 20,000 sq ft. Altogether 100,000 sq ft will be available. The ground floor will house hawkers. Now, there are about 280 shops, but once the new market is built, 400 will be accommodated.

The first floor will be earmarked for the auction of flowers; the second will be a cold storage and a packaging and sorting centre. The third floor will be a conference room, and the fourth will accommodate foreign guests and buyers. And the revolving restaurant will be the crowning glory. The market will be air-conditioned, second floor onwards. Strand Bank Road will be reconstructed with concrete, in keeping with the design of the Millennium Park.

The time frame for constructing it is a year from the time the Centre greenlights the project. Sil says finances will be no problem. The monthly savings from flower exports and market maintenance will be reinvested for construction. Flower exports have been a huge success because of the horticultural department, he says. Once ready, the commercial centres will be leased out. Sil holds out the assurance that the design of the market will be in keeping with that of the heritage ghat.

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