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Encroachment

Flower vendor claims heritage Zenana Ghat lease

A visit to the ghat showed metal frames being screwed on to the walls and collapsible gates on the pillared entranceways

Anasuya Basu | Published 18.05.22, 06:31 AM
Bamboo structures built at Ramchandra Goenka Ghat.

Bamboo structures built at Ramchandra Goenka Ghat.

Pradip Sanyal

A vendor from the Howrah flower market is using the Ramchandra Goenka Ghat or Zenana Ghat as storehouse and claims that he has taken on lease the 132-year-old heritage structure.

A visit to the ghat on Tuesday showed metal frames screwed on the walls and collapsible gates on the pillared entrance  to the ghat. Bamboo structures have been built in a corner of the ghat. Scores of baskets, dry flowers and branches are stacked in the corner.

The sheer weight of the structure with its load pile could harm the century-old tiles on the wall. In another corner, bunches of leaves are being stored. Another corner has been cordoned off with a curtain for women bathers.

“We have a lot of properties along the river bank. We have very little manpower to guard these properties. Once we hear of such encroachment, we take action. Ramchandra Goenka Ghat belongs to the Kolkata Port Trust and no one can encroach on it,” said a Port Trust spokesperson.

The heritage committee of Kolkata Municipal Corporation has listed Ramchandra Goenka Ghat as a Grade-I heritage structure.

West Bengal Heritage Commission chairman Shuvaprasanna said: “If we receive a written complaint on the ongoing activities at the ghat, we will look into it.”

Pradeep Sarkar, the flower vendor, claims he has taken on lease the heritage ghat for three months from the Kolkata Port’s traffic operations department. “The Port Trust never did anything here. It had become a den for anti-socials; a drug den. I have cleaned up the space. I have even carved a space for women bathers,” said Sarkar.

Sarkar’s workers are using the benches that run along the ghat walls to cook, said a heritage enthusiast.

In March, the Kolkata Port Trust authorities had to demolish a wall at the ghat built by Sarkar, as he himself admitted, after reports of encroachment. The wall is now replaced by the collapsible gates.

The Zenana Ghat is presumably built in the late-1880s or early-1890s by Ramchandra Goenka, father of Sir Badrinath Goenka. A leading businessman Ramchandra earned a reputation for the philanthropic works he did all over India.

It is pertinent to note that a small ghat tucked away beside the Zenana Ghat called the Hur Gobind Shradh Ghat is already encroached upon by flower vendors. Now, the Goenka ghat seems to be going along a similar path.

The Zenana Ghat was once one of the most beautiful bathing ghats along the Hooghly, standing with its elegant domes next to Mullick Ghat, hidden behind the Armenian Ghat.

Last updated on 18.05.22, 06:31 AM
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