The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rooftop coffee shop at Gariahat market
- Penthouse plans atop garbage mound

A penthouse beverage bar is what the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is eyeing. On the lines of Delhi’s Pandara Park, the 10-bigha roof of the four-storey Gariahat market will be turned into a coffee house, with a rooftop food park and cuisine gallery. So far, the roof has been a den of drug addicts and a hideout for petty criminals.

“There’ll be a multi-cuisine mini food park, serving everything, from Mughlai and Chinese to continental. Even desi Bengali food will be available,” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee. He added: “I will take up the matter with the Coffee Board. This will be a Coffee House for south Calcutta.”

The rooftop restaurant will house a special sweetmeat section, serving delicacies like langcha from Shaktigarh, sarpuria and sarbhaja from Krishnagar and jal-bhora taalshansh sandesh from Chandernagore.

Announcing the scheme on the completion of three years of Trinamul Congress rule at the CMC, the mayor said that the food park would not have a concrete roof. Instead, colourful fibreglass sheets will be used. The debut is slated tentatively for Pujas 2004.

On Thursday morning, mayor Mukherjee inspected the Gariahat market roof, accompanied by mayoral council member (markets) Samsuzzaman Ansari and local councillor Rajib Deb.

“We will construct the food park restaurants jointly with private entrepreneurs, on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis,” said Mukherjee. But, before inviting applications from private parties, the CMC will facelift the market and engage an architect to design the roof-top food park, he added.

The civic authorities expect to earn about Rs 10 crore by letting out the roof. There are seven staircases in the market and one of them will be dedicated for the food park. Besides, there will be provision for an escalator from the second floor to the top.

Gariahat market now has 720 shops and stalls and about 500 vendors, apart from a dozen banks and offices. The CMC earns Rs 90 lakh by way of rent from the market annually.

During his visit, the mayor was appaled by its shabby state and he asked councillor Deb, who oversees the civic body’s conservancy service, why the market and the staircases were so dirty. The mayor had to hop over mounds of garbage dumped on the stairs to reach the roof.

Civic conservancy officials told him more than 50 sweepers are employed exclusively for the Gariahat market. Mukherjee proceeded to the CMC office in the market building, the time then being around 10.45 am.

He was shocked to find that of 450 employees, only two were in their chairs. The mayor opened the attendance register and marked the employees absent.

“The employees who arrived late returned home as soon as they heard about the mayor’s sudden visit,” according to the office’s assessor-collector Soumen Mullick.

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