Kolkata Floating Market - a new jewel in the city

Inspired by the floating markets in Bangkok where waterway is a major mode of transportation, a floating market has been opened in Kolkata. Kolkata floating market is a new attraction added to the city.

About the market
The floating market of Kolkata is situated on a lake in Baishnabghata-Patuli Township near EM Bypass. This is the first floating market in India. The market is around 60 metres wide and 400 metres long. The market has nearly 114 boats and 228 shops selling vegetables, fruits, fish, meat and groceries.

The customers in the market shop from along the walkways built on the lake and the shopkeepers sell their items from the boats. The boats have gates which allow the customers to make an entry and exit. There is no entry-fee for this market and it is operational from 6 am to 9 pm.

Purpose for setting up
The main purpose for establishing this floating market was to rehabilitate 228 shop owners of Baishnabghata-Patuli market, an adjoining area on EM Bypass, which was being widened from 4 lanes to 6 lanes. In order to provide space for the expansion of the road, the Government of West Bengal had to displace the 228 shopkeepers from the market.

The first floating market was unveiled by Srimati Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, on 24 January 2018, through a remote control during a programme at Netaji Indoor Stadium, some miles away from the lake. After the inauguration, the state Urban Development Minister visited the market in person and purchased some fruits from one of the shopkeepers.

Cost and features
Kolkata floating market is set up by the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA). Wooden walkways supported by wooden beams have been built for shopkeepers and buyers to reach the boats. Two water bodies were combined to set up the floating market. Further, this market will have two aerators, which are devices that collect oxygen from air and mix with the lake water. This will ensure that aquatic animals and plants get sufficient oxygen to survive. It is estimated that around Rs6 crore has been spent by the Government of West Bengal to set up this unique market on a water body and to make customized boats. Another, approximately, Rs4 crore was spent to construct an underground sewer network for the adjacent areas.

Weighing scale
One of the major problems that the Kolkata floating market faced within 24 hours of its opening was the weighing scales. None of the weighing scales of the 228 shopkeepers was weighing correctly. Since the boats are shaking at the slightest movement or the hint of a breeze, the weighing scales are displaying different readings within seconds. The greater the weight of the items, the higher the difference in reading in the weighing scale. This has left both the sellers and buyers perplexed. Interestingly, this unexpected problem was not taken into consideration by the KMDA while setting up this market.

According to some physics professors, this problem is arising due to the fact that the weighing machines on the boats are never at the same level. When the boats are sinking downwards, the weight displayed is lower than the actual and when the boats are bobbing up, the weight displayed is greater than what it should be.

Another minor issue with the floating market is that, unlike the ordinary markets, the buyers here are unable to choose the items on their own.

There are three probable resolutions to the weighing problem in the floating market. The first solution is to place the weighing machines on the axis of the boat, which is the most static position on the tossing boat. The axis of the boat can be obtained by joining the two pointed ends of the boat with an imaginary line. The second solution is to tightly tie the boats to prevent movements. The third solution is to employ crane scale weighing machines which give a correct reading even on a moving boat. This type of weighing machine is used on big fishing boats. And the easiest solution perhaps would be to pre-weigh the items and pack them into bags or sell by units.

In spite of its drawbacks, the Kolkata floating market has garnered much popularity among the people of the city. It is expected that this unique market is soon going to become one of the major landmarks and tourist destination in Kolkata, like the Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge, Science City, etc.

© Arked Infotech 2018

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