The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flower mart, fun zone

How about some cappuccino and a light bite in a revolving restaurant overlooking the Hooghly' Or a capsule-lift ride into the country’s only international flower auction centre' Or some window-shopping before settling down in star comfort'

Calcutta’s mega flower mart promises to be 32,000 sq ft of pure indulgence at Mullickghat. Showcasing India’s finest floral fare to buyers at home and abroad, the complex will also offer star hospitality and shopping hotspots.

The project, to cost the state horticulture department around Rs 20 crore, has been cleared and work is likely to begin after the Pujas. If things go according to the plan on paper, the hub on the riverfront should open its revolving doors next year.

“This will transform the concept of flower-vending in India. We would like to create a space for promoting flower exports from this part of the country in a special manner,” claims Sudhangshu Sil, chairman, Mullickghat Phoolbazar Parichalan Samity.

Sil heads the nine-member committee set up to oversee the project, that will boast around 900 flower stalls on two floors, selling every variety produced locally.

The four-storey mall has been conceived by Bose Architects. The second floor will be dedicated to “the first international flower auction centre in the country”.

Complete with a state-of-the-art cold-chain (meant to preserve flowers at 4 degrees Celsius), the centre will display some of the best blooms from Bengal.

The ground and the first floor of the address will be earmarked for plush stalls enticing buyers to splurge. “The space will be dedicated to the setting up of a mall offering everything, from rare Indian handicrafts to garments, foodstuff to flowers,” claimed a member of the committee.

The endeavour, he added, was to create the right ambience by the Hooghly. So, it’s not about flowers alone, but about creating a one-stop shop for the bloom brigade.

“The guesthouses will offer nothing short of star luxury. They will have pools, parlours and with art arcades to woo visitors,” said Subrata Bose, deputy manager of the Horticulture Development Corporation.

“We flew in experts who advised us on ways to develop Dutch roses. The groundwork has begun and the produce should be available by early 2005. Besides, investors are already queuing up to produce rare varieties of flowers here,” adds Bose.

And the best is probably saved for last — from ground level, that is — in the form of a revolving cafeteria, fitted with a capsule lift and offering an all-in-one spread — from fish ’n’ chips to tandoori specials.

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