Concerns over literary meet at Victoria Memorial

Kolkata, Sep 28 : Booker Award-shortlisted Jhumpa Lahiri, novelist Ruskin Bond and former BBC journalist Mark Tully will be among those attending the third edition of Kolkata Literary Meet 2014 but the event could cause harm to its venue, the iconic Victoria Memorial, environmentalits say.

The meet is scheduled for January next year and environmentalists say the monument should ideally not serve as a venue for an event likely to see huge crowds.

However, the monument's curator said Saturday that the concerns were misplaced. Curator Jayanta Sengupta explained: "This is a misconception... we work with environmentalists, in fact. We have taken all considerations into account and we will proceed accordingly."

Since its inception 2012, the literary meet (Kalam) has been hosted from the venue of the International Kolkata Book Fair in the Milan Mela grounds.

In a departure from tradition, the third chapter will see discussions and literary sessions at makeshift marquees on the Memorial's premises.

"We have not yet signed an agreement, but there is a broad plan to hold it there," Malabika R. Banerjee, one of the organisers of the event, told IANS.

Kalam is a part of the book fair, and slated for the end of January, following the Jan 28 inauguration of the book fair.

Environment activist Naba Dutta of NGO Sabuj Mancha is not persuaded that holding the meeting in the premises of the Victoria Memorial is a great idea: "It is not legally permissible... holding such grand events there and constructing structures. We strongly object to this. There was no need to shift it to Victoria Memorial," she said.

Sengupta, secretary-cum-curator of the edifice, told IANS: "The meet will be accessible to only select individuals, so there won't be much of a crowd. Besides, the monument itself receives heavy footfall on an average, so we will able to manage the Kalam audience efficiently."

Santanu Chacraverti, president of Society for Direct Initiative for Social and Health Action (DISHA), refusing to comment on the "specific issue" of Kalam, however said it is best to "leave the grounds undisturbed."

--IANS (Posted on 28-09-2013)

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