The next time someone asks you where Rabi Thakur is, do not look upwards. The person could be asking you for directions to what is now known as the Ruby rotary along EM Bypass.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has named the Ruby crossing Rabi Thakur More (crossing).
Civic officials said official records of the EM Bypass and the Rashbehari Avenue Connector intersection did not bear any name before the KMC’s road renaming committee named it Rabi Thakur crossing about a month ago.
But to every Kolkatan, this crossing is known as Ruby.
As Kolkata expanded east and southeast, the crossing became busier with thousands passing it every day.
“Rabi Thakur More is the official name of Ruby crossing now. The proposal of naming the Ruby crossing as Rabi Thakur crossing was first approved by the KMC’s road renaming committee.
It was then passed by a majority of councillors at the monthly meeting on Saturday,” said a senior official of the KMC.
The monthly meeting of councillors is equivalent to an Assembly session for the KMC. Major policy decisions of the KMC have to be passed through the monthly meeting.
The members of the KMC’s road renaming committee include poet Joy Goswami, who is also the chairman of the committee; singer Indrani Sen; singer Saikat Mitra; chief executive officer of Belle Vue Clinic, Pradip Tondon; and husband of Trinamul MP Shatabdi Roy, Mriganka Banerjee. The Telegraph could not contact Banerjee to ask him about his profession.
Goswami said he was indisposed.
Sen, who sings Tagore songs, said: “The proposal came to the committee and it was passed unanimously. This place had no official name previously and the committee felt it would be good to name it Rabi Thakur crossing.”
The Trinamul Congress councillor of Ward 108 and the chairperson of Borough XII of the Kolkata municipal area, Sushanta Ghosh, had sent the proposal to rename the Ruby crossing to the road renaming committee.
Ghosh told The Telegraph that he felt a road and an area built with public money should not be named after a private enterprise.
The crossing came to be known as Ruby because a private hospital — Ruby General Hospital — is located at the eastern corner of the crossing.
Saikat Mitra, also a singer and member of the committee, said since the proposal was to name the crossing after Rabindranath Tagore, no one opposed it.
“If the proposal was to name the place after anyone else, there could have been second thoughts. But Rabindranath is such a figure that no one can have anything to say in opposition,” Mitra said.
When Tagore lived, Ruby crossing and most of southeast Kolkata was a barely inhabited marshland.
The stretch of EM Bypass connecting Science City with a crossing that would lead to Rashbehari Avenue was built in the early-1990s, said an official of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), the custodian of EM Bypass.
“The first phase, between Ultadanga and Beleghata, was built in the early-1980s. The second phase, between Beleghata and what is now known as the Science City crossing, was built in the mid or late-1980s. The third phase, between Science City and Ruby, was built in the early-1990s,” the KMDA official said.
Councillor Ghosh was also instrumental in setting up a statue of Rabindranath Tagore at the crossing, next to Ruby hospital, on the birth anniversary of Tagore this year.
“I had first proposed that the place be named Rabi crossing but some singers suggested to me that the place should be named Rabi Thakur crossing. The mayor of Kolkata had come during the unveiling of Tagore’s statue. I put the proposal before him. He asked me to write to the road renaming committee of the KMC,” said Ghosh.
“I wrote to the committee and later I came to know that they have accepted my proposal,” he said.
Ghosh added that a daylong cultural programme would be held at the crossing on August 7, which is Baishey Shrabon, the death anniversary of Tagore. A plaque with Rabi Thakur as the name of the crossing will be put up that day.