| BEAUTY BY THE BANK: Victoria Square, where Jyoti Basu laid the foundation stone for the Glory of Bengal underwater aquarium-cum-exhibition centre in 1993
The first post-Raj refurbishment drive of the city’s parks and squares took off on Sunday with financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), even after the Trinamul Congress headquarters ordered the rollback of water tax at the cost of violating the conditions and suggestions imposed by international funding agencies. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee flagged off the Rs 2.25-crore first phase of the revamp schemes at a function at Victoria Square, on Albert Road.
Parks and squares are the third area, after conservancy and slum development, of the ADB’s Rs 1,245-crore environment improvement package for the city. Funds started trickling in after a survey to carry out the field level projects.
The conservancy department has already procured two bulldozers and development work at the Pearabagan bustee is now on with ADB funding.
The first phase of the scheme covers four waterbodies and six parks. The refurbishment will be complete by June next year. The four waterbodies include College Square, Puddapukur (on Lansdowne Road), Hedua and Tala Park. About Rs 60 lakh will be spent on improving the environment of the four squares. Tala Park will receive the highest allotment of Rs 23 lakh. Among the parks and squares, the highest amount, Rs 66 lakh, will be spent on the development of Parnasree Park, in Behala.
Development works to be undertaken with ADB funds:
•Installation of gates
•Laying of sewer lines
•Pathways paved with checkered tiles
According to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s (CMC) director for ADB projects Udaychand Sen, tenders have already been finalised for the first phase of the work in parks and squares. Bills of $ 100,000 and above will be directly paid by the bank, and those less than that will have to be paid by the CMC. The bank will reimburse the amount later. Because of the recent fall in the exchange rate of the dollar by Rs 3, the CMC was facing a net loss of Rs 6 lakh for every crore it received from the bank in dollar terms. The bank offers funds in dollar terms alone.
Mukherjee said only the resuscitation of Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar was suggested in the environment improvement projects. After the national river conservation department (NRCD) offered Rs 6 crore to the state government for the development of the two lakes, the CMC decided to reallocate the funds sanctioned for the two lakes to the development of parks and several tanks in them. Ganja Park (DN Mitra Square), Maddox Sqaure, Lake Gardens and Rabindrakanan will be beautified in the second phase of the scheme.