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Fresh off the boat

| Updated on: Mar 23, 2018

Kolkata gets a floating market, but are customers buying into it?

Following the Kolkata beautification drive undertaken by West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the city now boasts a floating market at Patuli, similar to the one in Bangkok.

The initiative is a part of a joint rehabilitation — by the State government and the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) — of the shopkeepers of the Baishnabghata-Patuli market who were displaced by the widening of the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.

The floating market has around 114 boats, each of which can accommodate two shopkeepers. On sale is everything from vegetables, fruits, fish, meat and poultry to household items. Buyers can approach the stalls by means of the wooden walkways on stilts.

The experience is new for both buyers and sellers, and the feelings are mixed right now. Bapi Dutta, a vegetable seller from Rajpur municipality of South 24 Parganas district says, “This has been a very good experience so far in terms of management, but locals, our regular customers, still need time to adjust to this.”

The maintenance and cleanliness of the Patuli Lake remain critical to the future of this marketplace. As of now, KMDA is using two aerators and two fountains to keep the waterbody clean.

What remains to be seen is if the fish-loving Bengali is ready to buy fish without the customary touching and examining — a slightly daunting task on board a boat, even a merely floating one.

Bitan Basu is a Kolkata-based photographer

Published on Jan 17, 2022

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