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UK firm to build London eye

London Eye

The bid to build a Calcutta Eye modelled on the London Eye has been won by a UK-based firm.

Officials in the urban development department said Sun Consultancy Investment and Consortium, which won the bid on Wednesday, would take about two years to build the gigantic Ferris wheel by the Hooghly that would offer a bird’s-eye view of the city from the height of a 30-storeyed-building.

The wheel, to come up in Millennium Park-3, would take people to a height of 100m (Shahid Minar is 48m-tall, for reference).

The London Eye, on the southern bank of the Thames, is 135m-tall.

Urban development minister Firhad Hakim said the CMDA, Calcutta Port Trust, which will provide land for the project, and the UK-based firm have formed a consortium to set up the structure.

The company has been selected through a tendering process. Sun Consultancy Investment and Consortium had submitted a Rs 300-crore bid. The only other bidder was a Bhubaneswar-based company.

The CMDA would provide Rs 81 crore for the project and soon sign a memorandum of understanding with the port trust and the UK company.

“It will be a 30-year contract and the profit will be shared among the shareholders.... The project will be completed within 18 months of the date of commissioning,” said Hakim. An official said it is likely to be commissioned in three months.

A senior official of IL&FS, which is liaisoning with the stakeholders on behalf of the CMDA, said Calcutta Eye would have 36 air-conditioned capsules made of steel and glass that would seat eight people each.

Two of these capsules will have sofas and allow meetings to be held inside.

The London Eye is a little different, though. It has 32 capsules, each of which can seat 25 people.

The wheel, sources said, would go around slowly, at 0.9kmph hour, which is just the speed at which the London Eye rotates. At this rate, the wheel at Calcutta would take 30 minutes to make a full circle.

“The wheel will revolve so slowly that people would be able to get down from the capsules without the wheel stopping. But the wheel would stop for the physically-challenged and the aged and if someone falls ill,” said an official.

A London Eye ticket for an adult (above 16 years) is £29.50 or Rs 2921.63. CMDA officials said the ticket price for Calcutta Eye is yet to be fixed.

The project had been lying for three years with the tourism department, which failed to get either land or investors.

“The project was on the verge of being scrapped when the CMDA showed interest in it six months back,” said an official.

The CMDA engaged IL&FS, which included Calcutta Port Trust to provide for London Eye