BUDDHA BID TO LEGALISE KOLKATA 

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By BY SHANKAR MUKHERJEE in Calcutta
  • Published 27.07.01
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Calcutta, July 27 :    Calcutta, July 27:  Calcutta is Kolkata. That's official - and it will soon be legal, too. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the man behind the move to rename Calcutta, now wants to make the new name "legally binding". The government is bringing in a legislation to make it mandatory for all government and semi-government agencies and organisations dependent on the government to use 'Kolkata' instead of Calcutta. Bhattacharjee will place the West Bengal Capital City (Change of Name) Bill, 2001, in the Assembly on Monday. According to provisions of the Bill, all documents or instruments, structures, buildings, monuments, roads, lakes, grounds, or any object "of public importance" carrying the name of the city, will have to use 'Kolkata'. "The new name will have to be used in any Act, Ordinance, rule, notification, regulation, by-law, custom or usage or other instrument having the force of law,'' the Bill states. For example, Calcutta Municipal Corporation, Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority, Calcutta Improvement Trust, Calcutta Tramways Company, CSTC and any such government or semi-government agency will be "obligated to use the new name". Names of Central government organisations, like Calcutta Telephones, Calcutta Port Trust and Calcutta Customs, will also have to be changed to Kolkata Telephones, Kolkata Port Trust and Kolkata Customs. Calcutta Police has already switched to Kolkata Police. "As the proposal of the state government to rename the city has been approved by the Centre and it is soon going to be an Act, all Central government organisations will use the new name of the city where required," said a senior home department official. He added that though it was "not mandatory" for private companies, shops and establishments to replace Calcutta with Kolkata, "it is expected that they will all respect the law once it is enacted". Explaining the need for the legislation, Bhattacharjee said it was necessary to bring about "some uniformity" in the use of the city's name on all occasions and the Bill can achieve that. The government had issued the name-change notification on December 27, 2000. The move to rename the city - on the heels of Madras becoming Chennai and Bombay, Mumbai - had won the approval of a large section of the Bengali intelligentsia, but drawn murmurs of protest from several other quarters. As a lot of documents, including file covers, letterheads of ministers and senior bureaucrats, other official documents, signboards at many district offices would have to be changed, the process involves a huge expenditure. It has been mentioned in the Bill that "appropriate provisions" will be made in the budget to meet the expenses of the switchover. The spelling of the new name in Bengali, English and Hindi has also been put down in the Bill. In Hindi, it will also be Kolkata, against the earlier Kolkatta. Many government organisations and development agencies have not taken on the new name due to some legal problems. "After the legislation, there will be no problem for any organisation or agency to use the new name as and where necessary,'' officials said.