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Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Didi's Kolkata set for 'London Eye' as part of major facelift!
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Traders sell groceries at a roadside market in Kolkata. The local government in Kolkata, once capital of British India, is to kick off plans August 2, 2011 to transform the congested city into a 'second London' - AFP.
The government in Kolkata, once capital of British India, is to kick off plans on Tuesday to transform the congested city into a 'second London', replete with a London Eye ferris wheel.
Newly-elected Mamata Banerjee chief minister of West Bengal made an election pledge to transform the dysfunctional metropolis into a world class city.
"Kolkata was the second city of the British empire. Why can't our Kolkata be a second London?" Banerjee told reporters ahead of the official ceremony launching the project later on Tuesday.
The planned facelift marks the first major urban renewal effort in the state by Banerjee, who became known as 'the giant killer' after toppling the world's longest-serving communist government in West Bengal in May.
The bustling metropolis of 15 million, whose name was officially changed in 2001 from Calcutta, was a cluster of villages on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River before it became the capital of British India.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Kolkata had become one of the world's wealthiest cities, leading to a building spree that left a rich architectural heritage.
Many parts of the city, particularly the Maidan that was inspired by Hyde Park and the centre where the large administrative buildings are located, closely resemble the British capital.
A huge memorial to Queen Victoria remains a city centrepiece and tourist attraction to this day.
But after decades of under-investment and neglect, the walls of many buildings are crumbling and the grandeur of the city has long faded in the fierce local climate of heat, humidity and heavy rains.
Banerjee's transformation will focus on the waterfront along the Hooghly River, which cuts Kolkata off from its twin city, Howrah, once known as the 'Sheffield of the East', a reference to the one-time British manufacturing hub.
A 'Kolkata Eye' inspired by the London Eye will be built so that visitors can get a bird's-eye-view of the city as well as the river from rotating capsules, Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said.