New Delhi, September 12, 2014
Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Shripad Naik today said that the Ministry of Tourism would help the Government of Maharashtra create a cultural hub, most of it open air and on the lines of Times Square in New York, in Mumbai.
He said the Ministry would sanction Rs 5 crore for phase I of the project with similar amounts for every subsequent phase.
This would be over and above what the Government of Maharashtra would spend in creating the basic infrastructure to incentivise private sector parties to invest in the project, he said.
According to an official press release, the Government of Maharashtra and the local authorities in Mumbai would select the various private parties, each of which will undertake a specific responsibility.
Kala Ghoda in Mumbai is being seen as the location best suited for the purpose of creating a hub of heritage and culture, mostly open air, the equivalent of Times Square, New York. The final decision on the exact location in the area will be taken keeping in mind issues such as ensuring that there is no disturbance to vehicular traffic and ensuring maximum activity, it said.
The vision behind the Kala Ghoda proposal is to provide popular entertainment as well as access to heritage and culture for the benefit of international tourists, domestic tourists and the people of Mumbai. This should result in a few themes and additional jobs being created.
The features of the hub proposed at Kala Ghoda are as follows:-
(1) A 15 feet high flag of India, made of hard transparent materials and lit from within, will provide a photo opportunity to visitors, just as the US flag does in Times Square.
(2) Large electronic billboards will give corporates an opportunity to advertise their products while also providing income to the owners of the buildings that host such electronic advertisements and entertainment to visitors.
(3) With the grant given by the Ministry of Tourism it will be ensured that :
(a) the entire pedestrian area will be paved with stone slabs (not cobble stone);
(b) wide steps rising upwards will be created for visitors to sit on. At Times Square such benches are made of high quality, hard transparent, coloured plastic lit from below, as well as some such sitting areas in steps made of steel;
(c) drinking water fountains with reverse osmosis-treated water so that no plastic water bodies are taken there.
(4) One or two high resolution web cams/CCTVs will be operated by one or two private parties selected by the Government of Maharashtra/local authorities to photograph live the visitors sitting on these wide steps and to (a) project them on gigantic screens opposite the benches; and (b) provide a live “stream” on the internet.
(5) Film and cartoon characters, preferably from the cinemas of India and cartoons by Indian cartoonists, will walk around the Kala Ghoda cultural hub for photo opportunities with visitors, as at Times Square. Tipping these humans dressed as cartoon and film characters will be voluntary because they will be paid a salary.
(6) There will be street performances.
According to the release, Kala Ghoda already has art galleries, music shops, eating places, artists sketching visitors, access to shopping areas and other facilities and activities that make it suitable for becoming the Indian equivalent of Times Square.
The Ministry of Tourism is funding a scheme to project 3-dimensional (3D) images of 36 Indian monuments, one from each State and Union Territory at India Gate in New Delhi. Depending on the success of that project, it will consider similar projections on the Gateway of India in Mumbai, it said.
A meeting was held in Mumbai in August, 2014 headed by officers of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and attended by officers of the Department of Tourism, Maharashtra and representatives of the Mumbai Traffic Police, who gave their in-principle approval for the Mumbai project.
Arising out of those discussions, the Tourism Department, Maharashtra submitted a proposal to the Union Ministry of Tourism for grant of Central Financial Assistance for the project. The project was approved yesterday, the release added.
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