The Telegraph
Friday , April 13 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Start of Salt Lake reclamation

The following is a translation of the news article that was published in Anandabazar Patrika the next day

Chief minister Bidhan Chandra Roy (second from right) and irrigation minister Ajay Mukherjee at the inauguration of the reclamation scheme

On Monday morning, chief minister of West Bengal Bidhan Chandra Roy inaugurated the reclamation of Salt Lake near Ultadanga station, at Dakshindari. In the future days, a huge township will come up over 2,400 acres of what today is marshland at a side of the city, in south and north Salt Lake area. The chief minister referred to the inaugural moment of the biggest expansion project of the city as “the hour of birth of a new idea”.

Salt Lake is now being filled up with clay from the Hooghly brought through the pipelines. The chief minister turned on a switch, thereby starting the official landfill. Clay and sand gurgled through the pipe and fell in the Salt Lake.

The reclamation of north Salt Lake will take place in two phases over 18 square miles. About 3.75 square miles adjacent to the city will be raised to the level of the city of Calcutta through landfill. The remaining 14 square mile area would be kept for cultivation of crops, fruits and pisciculture, in line with the polder system of the Netherlands.

\Government officials say that the new township that is coming up will have all the facilities of urban city life. Roads, underground sewerage, electricity, water supply, park, market, entertainment centres — nothing will be missing in the township. The new township will house a population of almost 1.5 lakh.

It has been estimated that the reclamation will cost Rs 19 crore. Land will be sold as plots in the new township and the government has given assurance that the rates will be within the means of the common man.

CM’s speech

The programme took place under a canopy in the part of salt lake that has already been filled. In his speech at the inauguration, the chief minister said: “I have come here to witness the birth of a new idea.” He added that the area in the past was under-developed. A sum of Rs 15 to 20 lakh had to be spent every year to kill mosquitoes. He went to the Netherlands and saw how the Dutch government had developed acres of underdeveloped land. This inspired him. He sought their opinion about Salt Lake.

In 1956, they submitted a plan. Thus the plan of Salt Lake was born. In conclusion, the chief minister recalled how sourcing of foreign currency proved tough in the reclamation of Salt Lake. But the problem was somewhat solved when the Yugoslavia government came forward to take up the responsibility of land filling. The chief minister hoped that the new ideology that was born on the marshlands would in near future bring happiness and prosperity to the nation.

Fifty engineering experts have come from Yugoslavia to supervise the landfill. They are working alongside Indian technicians and architects. The consul-general of Yugoslavia in Calcutta Mr Japundzic offered good wishes to the project on behalf of his country.

He further stated that Yugoslavian technicians were working on some plans for India’s industrial development. In this context, he mentioned some projects like the thermal power project of Baroni, the hydel power projects of Jaldhaka and Trishuli, the Durgapur-Calcutta gas grid, the gas refinery of Durgapur etc.

The chairman of Salt Lake reclamation and development board A.D. Khan, in his welcome address, hoped that this project, once completed, would solve the problem of Calcutta’s dense human habitation. Irrigation minister Ajay Mukherjee thanked everyone.

Foreign technicians, high-ranking officials of the state government and some ministers were present on the occasion. (Translated from Bengali by Sudeshna Banerjee)