Kolkata, July 9 (IANS) The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) and Indian Railways Friday inked a deal for beautifying the Ganges river front in a bid to turn the city into an attractive tourist destination.
Top officials of the city civic agency, the KoPT and the Railways signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee here.
‘In a bid to turn Kolkata into an attractive tourist destination we have taken up the project of river front beautification. Nature is an asset of our country. So beautification and restoration of nature will also help in the socio-economic progress of the country,’ Banerjee said.
The Ganga river front from Kolkata to Haldia, Kolkata to Sagar and Kolkata to Farakka will be developed under this project, she said.
‘The entire beautification project would be done in phases. The Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) has been engaged to prepare the comprehensive master plan on river front beautification and its commercial uses,’ Banerjee said.
‘Every year, the central government allocates huge funds on development projects but the state government has failed to utilise the funds properly. As these three government agencies have stake on the Ganges river bank, so we have decided to engage them to carry out the project at the earliest.’
Mukherjee agreed with Banerjee that improper utilisation of central funds by the state governments, which act as implementing agencies many projects, has resulted in the projects getting delayed.
‘Budget allocation should be utilised properly and I expect this project to be completed within the timeframe,’ he said.
‘If the banks of the Ganges can be developed, the city will also prosper, as it has happened in Venice in Italy,’ said Mukherjee.
The finance minister said that land would not be a problem for the project as majority of the river bank is either owned by the Railways or by the KoPT.
‘A mega project could be done easily on the river bank as land will not be a problem here,’ he said.
Mukherjee also suggested that the KMC and other municipalities situated along the river bank take the initiative to restore the 48 river ghats in the city.
He also praised the Railways for providing railway connectivity to the port and the KoPT for setting up new port facilities.