Maidan II @ Rajarhat

It’s going to be clean, green and expansive. And though half the size of its predecessor, it will be twice as well-planned. That, for you, is Maidan II, a 200-hectare idyllic meadow in the heart of New Town.West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) has just reserved the prime Rajarhat land for the Maidan II project. The grounds will be developed gradually and be ready around the time the Central Business District (CBD) — another landmark of New Town — is fit for use. The CBD will be New Town’s business hub and the Maidan opposite it will strike the muchneeded green balance.Considering the mad race for space in Rajarhat, the government’s move to earmark the prime land — which also contains a huge waterbody — should come as welcome relief to both residents and environmentalists.The green balance will be vast and have a far-reaching effect. As housing minister and Hidco chairman Gautam Deb put it, “It’s no use planning or developing a township unless one can strike a balance between green areas and concrete structures. The second Maidan will create this equilibrium. Like the original Maidan, it will be an asset for generations to come.” While the Kolkata Maidan belongs to the Army, the sprawling grounds will belong to Hidco. Private partners will be roped in for its development. Since Hidco has already started allocating land for CBD, it is only logical that those holding land in the business district will lend a helping hand to create and maintain Rajarhat’s pair of lungs. A senior Hidco official said, “It’s not possible to say by when the business district will start functioning. But we have decided to get the Maidan ready. The idea is to let the shopper or the businessman visiting CBD access the Maidan easily.” A flyover is supposed to come up at this juncture. Its arms will be built in such a way that one can cross over from CBD to the Maidan and vice versa. The chairman said, “We want to integrate commercial activity with the green zone.” While the landscaping of the Maidan will begin soon, the lake will also be cleansed, enclosed and beautified. The area around the waterbody will eventually be developed into an open-air entertainment zone with water sports designed for the lake. An open-air theatre and art gallery are on the cards. The authorities will coordinate with the forest department for proper landscaping of the grounds. The next step will be sapling plantation. Like the original Maidan, this area, too, will be dotted with statues and architectural pieces.Environmentalist Subhas Dutta, a known Maidan crusader, was cautious about the plan. “It’s a beginning, but the government must immediately create another open space in New Town for political rallies.” Dutta, who was instrumental in the formation of Calcutta High Court’s Green Bench in 1996, has already filed a petition on these lines. “Like London, we need to have a Hyde Park so that political rallies can be completely banished from the city proper.”

If Maidan II is an environmentalist’s dream, the Central Business District (CBD) opposite it will be a town planner’s rhapsody.Hidco, the custodian of New Town land, is planning it as Dalhousie Square meets Esplanade — in short, a thriving destination seamlessly combining the pleasures of business and shopping. But the experience will still be a green one, stresses a Hidco official. For, it will have two focal points at its two ends and these will be connected by a green pathway. “The CBD will have the ethos of Dalhousie Square and Esplanade. But unlike these two zones, it will have lots and lots of foliage and leafy trees.” He claimed that the CBD would be Kolkata’s first proper business district.Planners and architects at Hidco have put a lot of thought into planning the pathway, which will add a green touch to the area and set it apart from concrete jungles elsewhere in the city. Automobile movement will have to be restricted. “Cars would not be allowed to enter the green corridor. The plan is such that the roads will be overhead. Visitors can get off their cars on these roads and walk down to the green corridor,” the Hidco official said. A playground will be constructed around the green pathway for shoppers to laze around with their children. The green area will be isolated from the commercial zone (including retailing, business and IT). Care will be taken to highlight the unique features of the two zones yet make them seem part of a larger whole. The greenery will be maintained by those being allotted land in CBD. The official said, “The CBD project will generate a lot of revenue for Hidco. The development around it will also come free as the entrepreneurs involved will take it upon themselves to maintain the beauty of the surroundings.” Finally, the CBD will not slip into darkness after dusk. Hidco intends setting up government quarters within the business district so that light and life keep CBD alive even at night.

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