A quaint picnic spot cum bird-watchers’ paradise has opened ahead of the owl crossing in New Town on Christmas Eve.
A 15 acre plot near Malancha housing complex has been developed around a 15-acre natural lake. This is the largest in the township after the 112-acre one in Eco Tourism Park. “Ornithologists say the lake attracts 17 types of birds from lands as far away as Indonesia and the Philippines. So we decided to make the surroundings comfortable for bird-watchers and picnic-goers,” said Debasish Sen, chairman cum managing director of Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco), that is developing the plot.
As the name suggests, Eco Urban Village will have a rural ambience with hay sheds for visitors instead of concrete cottages. “The only concrete structure here would be the restrooms. Others will be made of bamboo and hay,” said Sen. “There would be minimal man-made beautification.”
Unlike at Eco Tourism Park, there will be provision for cooking here and visitors will be allowed to bring their bicycles to ride around. Pedal boats, angling facilities and binoculars — to watch the birds would be available too. But to preserve the natural environs, visitors cannot play music and anyone caught littering would be fined Rs 100. “In fact, we hope to introduce this fine on littering all over New Town gradually, in phases,” said Sen.
A view of the waterbody.
Pictures by Snehal Sengupta
Entry to the park costs Rs 20 per person but early bird discounts are available for groups of around 50. Joggers can also buy yearly annual passes for Rs 1,200.
Food stalls would come up at the park and eventually maybe even stalls selling handicraft items from rural Bengal. Some private stalls already exist outside the plot and Hidco plans to beautify and integrated them as part of the Eco Urban Village ambience. A car park would be built next door too.
“I’ve had my tea stall here for nine years now but footfall is low. I mostly get labourers from nearby construction areas. But a new picnic spot would draw many more customers,” said Ajijul Ali, from his stall outside the plot.
Residents are happy but pensive. “It’s good that our neighbourhood is being developed but I hope it doesn’t get dirty and noisy now,” said Joydeep Sarkar of Malancha complex.
Subhajit Roy, also of Malancha, hopes that with more visitors, public transport to the area gets a boost. The stretch has recently got an ST-15 route bus till Ultadanga on a trail basis and Sen is optimistic. “At least 20 new bus routes have started in the area after Eco Park came up. The same would happen here as footfall increases.”
Till January 3 a bus will shuttle between the owl crossing and the Village every 20 minutes, free of cost.