The Maidan used to marauded every winter for Kolkata’s myriad fairs among which the most prestigious would be the Kolkata Book Fair. This year it was different. In response to PIL by noted environmentalist Subhas Datta, the High Court decided time has come for the book fair to shift from Maidan.
Post HC decision, the hullabaloo was to be seen to believe. The literati took upon themselves to protest the court’s ‘highhandedness’ and at one stage it seemed that perhaps the book fair wouldn’t take place.
Sane senses prevailed in time, and despite fears on the contrary the book fair has been a resounding success at Salt lake Stadium.
But why wouldn’t the book fair be held at Milon Mela, the supposed-to-be permanent fair ground of the city off Sonar Bangla Hotel? Apparently the space there is less than what the book fair used to enjoy at the Maidan. If that is the case, it’s indeed a pity that the city cannot afford big enough land to have its own fair ground.
Adjacent to Milon Mela is a 10-acre plot under the control of Calcutta Stock Exchange (CSE). At a time about 12 years back when Kolkata still looked like an industrial wasteland and the EM Bypass a failed experiment, the city’s municipal corporation (KMC) allotted the land to CSE in expectation of popularizing the place.
The place did become popular, so much so that land in the vicinity has already skyrocketed. Meanwhile though CSE has become almost defunct, derelict and devoid of any hope for survival. Yet it would not let go the land without erecting hurdles in KMC’s way.
At long last the hurdles look like being ironed out. If the land can be freed from CSE’s clutches, at least 5 acres would go to Milon Mela. In which case the latter will have something about 71 bighas under its command, which is a much bigger area than the Maidan space of erstwhile book fair.
There is another creeping fear for Milon Mela, which is that if it doesn’t become functional within a stipulated time then its land will go to Crafts Village. The whole issue is genuinely complex and would need good amount of effort to resolve.
Lets expect Milon Mela doesn’t turn out as another nonstarter after having created all those high hopes.