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Venue Problems Scuttle Calcutta Book Fair

The Independent reports that India’s undisputed literary capital is in mourning after the loss of one of its most venerable and lucrative institutions: the Calcutta Book Fair. The fair was abruptly canceled right before it was scheduled to open today because of problems with the Maidan, the city’s answer to Central Park. Since it was founded in 1976, the book fair has been held on the Maidan and millions have flocked there to marvel at its architecture as they look through the bookshelves. But in recent years growing concern over the environmental damage, not only to the Maidan itself, but to the surrounding monuments, has resulted in pressure to shift the fair elsewhere.

Almost all of Calcutta’s major events used to take place on the Maidan. But in 2004 the High Court banned public fairs – with the exception of the book fair, which was given a special exception for a few years, during which the fair’s organizers were supposed to look for a new venue. But that special exception is no more, and the Fair must find new grounds to host them. But it kind of makes you wonder, don’t they believe in contingency plans? Or were they so optimistic as to keep the blinders on? No doubt the fights will continue in time for next year’s book fair, too…

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