Buddhadeb: books are identity of people, societies and civilisations

Staff Reporter

Criticises environmental campaign against book fair

The fair was held on the Maidan grounds till 2006

Last year it made business worth Rs.17 crore

KOLKATA: Inaugurating the 34th International Kolkata Book Fair here on Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee criticised a section of the city’s environmentalists for running a campaign against the fair.

Calling the fair “a signature event for the city, besides being a prestigious event on the city’s cultural calendar,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said the voice raised by certain environmentalists against the event was ‘unfortunate.’

It was held on the vast Maidan grounds from its inaugural year till 2006.

The annual event had to be shifted to a different venue after an environmentalist filed a petition at the Calcutta High Court about the pollution the fair caused every year to the Maidan.

The court passed orders against the fair organisers.

“There are some environmentalists who actively campaign against the fair. I understand the importance of saving the environment to salvage the planet, but I still do not understand the logic behind closing down the fair [at its original venue] for environment’s sake,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Pointing out that more than 15 lakh book-lovers visited the fair last year and that the booksellers had made business worth Rs.17 crore, he hoped this year’s fair would register larger visitor footfalls and business.

Underscoring the importance of books, the Chief Minister said books are the “identity of people, societies and civilisations.”

‘Focus country’

This year, the fair will have around 650 stalls and several foreign countries, like the U.S., the U.K., France, Spain, Italy and Brazil, are participating with Mexico as the ‘focus country.’

Expressing his preference for Latin-American literature which encompasses every aspect of the continent’s history, culture as well as topography, Mr. Bhattacharjee said that he was a fan of Gabriel García Márquez’s works and thanked the Mexican authorities for giving the people of the city an opportunity to buy Mexican literature.

Nobel laureate and well-known Mexican author Jorge Volpi sounded the gong and marked the inauguration of the fair that will be thrown open to the public from January 27 and continue till February 7.

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