The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Culture hub in maestro memory

The state is set to get a new cultural centre, to be named after one of its most celebrated sons.

The Rajarhat panchayat has decided to christen its recently-renovated administrative building after Satyajit Ray. The centre will come up near Dakbungalow More, in the Rajarhat panchayat area, on the city’s northern fringes. The Rs 1-crore project will include a panchayat training institute in addition to the sprawling cultural centre.

The movie maestro’s wife Bijaya Ray will unveil the centre on March 22. Actor Soumitra Chatterjee and several other dignitaries will be present on the occasion.

An auditorium will be the biggest benefit to be derived from the centre. “We will not have to set up makeshift camps to organise cultural programmes any more,” Aparna Gupta, sabhadhipati of North 24-Parganas Zilla Parishad, said on Saturday.

Amitava Bose, district secretary of the CPM North 24-Parganas unit, said this would allow budding artistes in the rural belt to perform regularly. “We will invite experts to train them,” he said, adding that the centre would be completed in six months.

Another zilla parishad functionary said a film archive is also being planned at the centre as it is being named after the filmmaker. “We will organise regular film screenings too,” he added.

A 50-bed dormitory will be housed in the building to provide shelter to officials coming for inspection of rural development projects.

However, with barely two months to go for the panchayat elections, the unveiling of the centre is being seen in the Opposition circles as an attempt to “woo the electorate”. Tanmoy Mondal, Trinamul Congress MLA from Rajarhat, said he was not invited to the inauguration. “We don’t know anything about the cultural centre,” Mondal stated.

Unfazed by criticism, Gupta said the cultural centre would meet a long-standing demand of residents. “It is unfortunate that the renovation of Panchayat Bhavan is being politicised. We envisaged the plan long ago but could not undertake it due to paucity of funds, which the state government has now provided,” she said.

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