Kolkata Book Fair cancelled for first time since inception

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Kolkata, Jan 31 (UNI) For the first time in three decades, Kolkata Book Fair, one of the largest in the world, will not be held this year.

Publishers and Book sellers' Guild, organisers of the mega event, today announced cancellation of the programme in the wake of a court order stalling a move to hold the fair in a south Kolkata park.

''The event has been cancelled this year since we have not found a suitable ground,'' Guild general secretary Tridib Chattopadhyay said.

Mr Chattopadhyay blamed the state government and the civic authorities for being unable to provide a ground for the fair.

The 32-year-old annual fair, which is said to be the largest in the world in terms of turnover and third largest going by the size, was scheduled to start yesterday at Park Circus maidan.

However, the move came to a halt on January 28 following a Calcutta High Court order that banned holding of the fair at Park Circus Maidan citing pollution hazard and traffic congestion in the locality.

While hundreds of pavillions and stalls had already been put up, the court directed the fair organisers to its original position before handing it over to the civic authorites, Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee described the court verdict as 'unfortunate' while there was an outcry by a section of the intelligentsia against the move to stall the fair.

A section of writers and intellecutals also held a 'symbolic' book fair at the Brigade Parade Gound yesterday with few foreign delegates, who had already arrived in the city.

The army, having control over the area, however, described it as unauthorised and illegal.

The book fair, which traditionally had its venue at the Brigade Parade Ground from 1975 to 2006, had to be shifted to the Salt Lake Stadium last year following an order of Calcutta High Court that held that the green of the sprawling space cannot be destroyed.

Meanwhile, a separate organisation of publishers initiatiated a move for holding an alternative book fair and held a meeting with Sports Minister Subhash Chakraborty.

UNI KDG KK SP RAI2054

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