The Centre is considering a proposal to showcase the heritage sites along the 47-km stretch on the western bank of the Hooghly, from Calcutta to Bandel, to attract foreign tourists.
Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi has taken an initiative in this regard and has held several rounds of talks with Union tourism minister Ambika Soni, said an official of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.
The minister has sought a detailed report concerning heritage preservation in the zone from the governor, added the official.
Gandhi, who is also involved in the preservation of heritage structures in the city, had told the civic authorities in a series of meetings this year that the west bank of the Hooghly cannot be ignored in the exercise to preserve the colonial heritage.
Apart from the British, the French, Portuguese, Dutch and the Danish had set up colonies along the Hooghly, between Serampore and Bandel.
“Calcutta represents only the heritage of the British, who had come to India after the other European powers. If colonial heritage is to be preserved, we have to take care of the edifices built not only by the British, but also by the Portuguese, Dutch, Danish and the French,” said mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya.
“We want to develop the heritage sites between Calcutta and Bandel to draw foreign tourists. We may even conduct heritage tours in future. We are now preparing a status report,” added the mayor.
Municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay has undertaken a tour of the belt and prepared a list of colonial landmarks in it. He will submit a report, comprising backgrounders, photographs and an assessment of the condition of the heritage edifices, to the mayor and the governor.
After hearing from the municipal commissioner that the tombs of missionary educationists William Carey (1761-1834), Joshua Marshman (1768-1837) and William Ward (1769-1823) are in a dilapidated condition, the mayor sanctioned Rs 5 lakh for their renovation. “It is painful to learn that the tombs are in a bad shape. We will help restore the three tombs to their original glory,” Bhattacharyya stated.
“We are indebted to them, particularly to William Carey. Their contribution towards the expansion of education and modernisation of Bengali prose is immense,” the mayor pointed out.
Municipal commissioner Bandyopadhyay observed that a richer repository of colonial relics does not exist in any other place in the country.
The Portuguese were the first to arrive in the region in the late 16th Century. The Dutch, French and the British followed.