Green cover on top, car park below

It's a green oasis in the heart of BBD Bag. But the landscaped garden covered with grass and flowering plants hides the latest utility addition to Kolkata's busy office zone: an underground parking lot that can fit in at least 600 cars. 
Two years in the making, the parkomat next to Laldighi constructed at a cost of Rs 45 crore will be thrown open by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Monday. The two-tier parking arena is six metres deep, with each floor offering over 9,000 sq metres of parking space.

The most striking feature of the parking lot is the green cover that the roof sports. During construction, it was seen that 1.2 metres of the structure would jut above the ground level, triggering concerns among architects and conservationists that the building would turn out to be an eyesore in a heritage zone that houses architectural marvels like Writers' Buildings, GPO and St Andrew's Church.

To ensure that this did not happen, state PWD authorities hatched the plan for the green cover, which has given the area an aesthetically appealing look. From the heritage structures that surround the Laldighi square, the view will be that of a soothing, green vista. A statue of Bidhan Chandra Roy has also been placed within the garden.

Standing bang opposite the state government headquarters, security will be tight at the parkomat. State PWD secretary A R Bardhan said check posts would be set up at the entry gates to check cars entering the parking lot.

"The highest priority would be given to security matters. For this, electronic checkposts would be installed in the second phase. There will be people to manage this. There are also plans to collect toll. The money can be used to maintain the parking lot," he said.

The parking lot will hold 600 cars in the two basement levels, out of which only 200 will be private vehicles. The space for the other 400 cars will be reserved for government vehicles. The PWD authorities have received many requests from private firms and banks with offices in BBD Bag for dedicated parking space inside the lot. "We will have to hold more discussions on this issue," was all Bardhan said.

The high demand for parking space in the area has made people question why another level could not be added to the structure to increase parking space.

There are plans to introduce smart cards for VIP cars, including those of ministers and secretaries. There will be checkposts where these can be punched or checked manually.

On Sunday, policemen were seen doing a round of the parking lot with sniffer dogs. 
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