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Birthday cake toast to township

Two bodies, on opposing sides in court over the contentious issue of property tax till recently, came together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the township. Bidhannagar Municipality and Bidhannagar (Salt Lake) Welfare Association held a joint programme at Purbashree auditorium on Monday.

Along with union minister of state for urban development Saugata Roy, state ministers Firhad Hakim and Partha Chatterjee, civic chief Krishna Chakraborty along with a host of councillors and residents were present on the occasion on April 16.

Roy began his address by reminding the audience that Salt Lake was the first planned city of West Bengal. “Though it is true that Durgapur came up earlier than Salt Lake, the former is an industrial township,” said Roy. “There was a time when Salt Lake was just marshes and migratory birds used to flock here, with just mosquitoes for company. All that changed with Dr Roy’s vision.”

He added that the development was not complete. “Added areas need special attention, particularly regarding matters like drinking water. If the civic body wants to take up any project for development of the township, the centre would be sure to help. I would ask the civic body to send us proposals,” said Roy.

Industry minister Partha Chatterjee felt infrastructure needed to be improved. “Salt Lake is not just a satellite township of Calcutta but also the tech hub of Bengal. The chief minister wants municipal services upgraded here,” said Chatterjee.

Hakim said the biggest crisis in the township was water shortage. He stated that New Town would eventually get water from the Hooghly, supplied through pipelines, and that Salt Lake too would be benefited.

A slew of cultural programmes followed on April 16 and 17, including performances by singers Jayati Chakraborty, Monomoy Bhattacharya and Lopamudra Mitra. Salt Lake Theatre also staged a play called Briddhashrom, about an elderly couple deserted by their children.

Despite the event being called a joint effort it seems the welfare association had had to shoulder the cost burden. “We have been celebrating the township’s birthday for many years now, but it has typically been a small scale event,” said secretary Kumar Shankar Sadhu. This year the bill came to Rs 3.2 lakh, with the civic body paying only for the cake. “We joined hands with the municipality as the chief minister asked us to.”