The community hall opposite AK Park on the day of its opening. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
After years of waiting, AK Block residents finally have a community centre of their own.
The two-storeyed centre opposite their park was inaugurated on Akshay Tritiya on April 24. Civic chairperson Krishna Chakraborty and her predecessor Biswajiban Majumdar cut the ribbon together to enter the hall.
President Sambhu Narayan Sircar recalled how difficult it was to get the hall up. “We were first allotted a plot in 1994 inside the park but when we wanted to start construction some residents living opposite the park objected and filed a court case. In 1996 the Supreme Court ruled against the construction,” said Sircar.
The block committee then noticed that a corner plot opposite the park was vacant and upon inquiry found that it was unallotted. “We approached Majumdar, who was then civic chief, and he helped us get this AK 199 plot on lease from the urban development department. We did the bhumi puja in 2008 and construction started the next year.”
Now there are three blocks left in Salt Lake without community halls — EE, BH and JC blocks.
The AK Block centre’s design is unlike the run-of-the-mill look of community halls in other blocks. Built on a two-cottah plot, a portion of the ground floor is shaded but open-air. There is a mezzanine floor with a glass wall overlooking this shaded portion. “We hope to turn this floor into a library,” says joint secretary Aritra Sen.
The first floor is the banquet hall that can house around 300 people. There is also a garage that the association might rent out and the terrace has a caretaker’s room.
“With the opening of this hall residents will no longer have to go elsewhere to hold their functions,” said Chakraborty. Majumdar hoped that the hall would not be restricted to hosting pujas and for playing cards and carrom. “I hope it becomes a hub for social services too,” he said.
Residents are happy with the community hall. “All these years I would be forced to celebrate my children’s birthdays at restaurants,” said resident Sanjukta Banik. “It would be tedious ferrying relatives to these places. This hall, a stone’s throw away from my home, will be a convenient venue.”
Though construction is complete, the completion certificate is awaited from the municipality, on receiving which water lines will be connected, painting completed and furniture and fittings purchased. Bookings will start after that. The cost of building the hall (including leasing the plot) is around Rs 12 lakh.