Kolkata’s historic China Town, home to around 1,000 Chinese families for more than hundred years, could now actually look like a China town. West Bengal tourism department, along with Kolkata Municipal Corporation, has drawn up an ambitious plan to give the township—known for its thin alleys, shabby bylanes and most significantly exotic and authentic Chinese food — the much needed facelift.
The first phase of the renovation programme will be completed by this year-end and would entail an expenditure of Rs one crore, West Bengal tourism minister, Manab Mukherjee, said. Of this, Rs 90,00,000 would come from the state government while the remaining Rs 10,00,000 would come from the Centre. The first phase of the work would include putting up two large pagodas at the two entrances of the China Town and a large gate in oriental Chinese design on eastern metropolitan bypass-park circus connector, Chinese illumination all over the township, signages with a schematic map of China Town and general beautification including lamp posts, Mukherjee told Financial Chronicle. The foundation stone for the China Town beautification project was laid on Monday.
West Bengal tourism department has engaged the famed Chinese architect Zhang Bo from Kunming province of China and city-based architect Partho Das to put up the structures. “We were keen on having authentic Chinese structures, authentic Chinese paints and so on and then Mao Siwei, consul general, of the People’s Republic of China in Kolkata, connected us to the Chinese architect,” Mukherjee said.
The China Town has around 50 Chinese restaurants of different capacities. “We have asked the association of these restaurant owners to come and actively join our endeavour. We are also working on ways of getting suggestions and ideas from the local Chinese community so that this particular pocket looks like a place in mainland China and the place emerges as a great tourists attraction,” the minister said.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation has been engaged as a partner so that the civic body can put up and run quality schools and educational institutes in the locality and ensure improvement of the road infrastructure in and around the area, Mukherjee said.
By Ritwik Mukherjee Feb 16 2010 , Kolkata