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Save it from Goldfinger

The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has taken up an ambitious Rs 6 crore-and-more project to give a much-needed facelift to the centurion Metropolitan Building on Chowringhee.

A good part of the landmark building has been seized by illegal occupants, thanks to Bengal’s tenancy laws.

Pollution levels having reached an alarming level in central Calcutta, the pristine white building turns a mournful grey in a few months of its being given a coat of paint. What’s worse, rain or no rain, parasitic plants have sprouted out of its nooks and crannies, and this can make the structure weak.

So it was good news that the LIC was giving it a shot of Botox. So far so good.

Except that a few weeks ago, the white building suddenly started looking gaudy with prominent features being daubed with garish gold. Soon the cupolas, capitals of columns and the innumerable urns on the terrace began to glare in the sun, and Metropolitan Building itself turned into a giant piece of kitsch.

So was it LIC’s idea to splatter the building adjacent to Metro cinema with gold?

No. It is the folly of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. The same city fathers, who had declared Metropolitan Building a heritage structure over a decade ago, have in a recent directive, asked the LIC and landlords of other such buildings to highlight their architectural features with gold.

Not surprising, given that mayor Sovan Chatterjee had on Monday asked Metro: “Which is the Metropolitan Building?”

A public campaign had saved the building from demolition. Now it has to be saved from Goldfinger.

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