The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Garden treads revival path

Not far from the messy Maidan, a concerted makeover plan to resuscitate a vital patch of green in the city centre is finally ready to roll.

The final feasibility report for the redevelopment of Curzon Park (re-christened Surendranath Park) was submitted to the Curzon Park Project Cell on Thursday in the presence of PWD minister Amar Choudhury.

The draft report had been placed on November 8, 2004.

The implementation time for the master plan is 30 months from the date of commencement of work.

So, if the revival of the park ' now a classic example of civic apathy and urban decay ' is given the go-ahead in the spring of 2005, Calcutta can wake up to a brand new city centre by autumn 2007.

The feasibility study was carried out following the service agreement signed on July 26 last year between the cell and the consortium, comprising Surbana International (Consultants) Pte Ltd and SembCorp Engineers and Constructors Pte Ltd ' both Singapore-based firms ' and Bengal Pragati Infrastructure Development Ltd.

According to Partha Ghosh, director, Bengal Pragati, the tramlines that criss-cross the site are to be first 'rationalised into a smaller area to minimise impact'.

Then, a retail mall, with food courts and a parking lot for 1,000-odd cars, are to be pushed underground to 'inject a commercial element into the site and provide a revenue stream for maintenance of the park', as also to ensure viability.

Finally, the park is to be enlarged and upgraded, with a bouquet of facilities to encourage greater dialogue with the public.

The holistic makeover model was initially conceptualised by architect-planner Dulal Mukherjee who, along with green activist Subhas Dutta and NGOs Concern for Calcutta and Bhasha Parishad, have been vocal crusaders against the passivity over the park.

Conceptually, the planning has been organised around three clusters of public amenities straddling a covered, naturally-ventilated pedestrian mall.

'The most striking architectural element of the development and the only visible construction within the site is the steel, glass and aluminium roof structure that covers the pedestrian mall as it weaves its way through the site like a metaphorical river,' explains Christopher Shrugg, chief architect, Surbana.

While creating a new park, the site has been treated as distinct parts.

The eastern part is a stone-paved 'urban park', while the remaining area to the west has been broken up into the 'active zone' housing playgrounds and amusement areas, the 'literary zone', incorporating a water feature and an amphitheatre, and a 'contemplative zone'.

The three zones also define the three distinct clusters of retail outlets within the first basement level below the park, says Vincent Wong, regional head, SembCorp.

The parking lot is in Basement Two, below the retail level.

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