You could call it a manifestation of Didi’s determination to walk alone in times of crisis.
For about a year now, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been frequently stopping by at Elliot Park on Kolkata’s Jawaharlal Nehru Road on the way back home from work for a relaxed evening stroll. The city’s civic body has now decided to convert that green patch of the Kolkata Maidan into a private oasis for her.
Over the last fortnight, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has been working steadily to erect a corrugated sheet fence around the park — apparently to provide the chief minister privacy as she walks, and to keep out other citizens during that time.
The six-foot-high fence — which has replaced the earlier rickety wire fencing — has been painted in Trinamool green. The three-acre park — which is located opposite the landmark Tata Centre building on Chowringhee — itself is getting a makeover, with new lights and improved landscaping.
The 2-km jogging track along the park’s perimeter is being renovated. Damaged tiles are being replaced. The track will be illuminated by special knee-high ‘bollard’ light fixtures.
KMC took over the maintenance of the park from a corporate house about a month ago, and the makeover might cost about a crore of rupees, sources in the civic body said. Debasish Kumar, MMIC (Parks) at the KMC, confirmed that the CM visited the park frequently, but insisted that the beautification and upgradation was “routine”.
“Mamata Banerjee started going to Elliot Park regularly about a year ago. KMC has taken over the maintenance of most parks from private parties, and the few that still remain in private hands will be taken over soon. A grill fence would have become an issue because this area falls under the defence authorities of the Eastern Command. So we decided to put up a tin fence,” Kumar said.
Manzar Alam, MMIC (Lighting) at KMC, said: The park will get 10-15 watt CFL lamps which would emit a warm white light, but which will illuminate only the pathway and will not add to light pollution and irritate the eye. Rs 3 lakh has been sanctioned so far for soft, mellow lighting. At least 60 bollard lights will be required. Some of the loud lighting in the park now will be removed.”
The city police feel the corrugated sheet fence will help provide better security to the chief minister. “The public is not allowed