Kolkata book fair map 2017

Battery-operated cars unavailable, no information at entrance, no wheelchairs, no ramps at most of the stalls

: Even as the organisers of the International Kolkata Book Fair (IKBF) claimed that the fair has “done relatively well” despite demonetisation, disability rights activists alleged “scant arrangements” for differently-abled people at the fair. They pointed out that contrary to claims made on the IKBF website by the organisers on the availability of battery-operated cars for the disabled at the fair, none were found at the venue. Speaking to The Hindu, Tridib Kumar Chatterjee, Secretary, Publishers and Booksellers Guild, which hosts the fair, denied the allegations. The IKBF is one of the largest book fairs in the world in with an average footfall of 25 lakh visitors.

When The Hindu visited the Milan Mela Grounds in the Salt Lake area, the venue of the fair, no representatives of the organisers were present at the gate. When asked about the battery-operated cars, the policemen deployed at the venue said they had “no idea” about such arrangements.

The IKBF website states: “There are Battery Operated Cars available to take you through the entire Fair.” The website further states that visitors only have to inform personnel at the IKBF entry gate for hassle-free access to battery-operated cars. Further, it says, “You just need to inform at the Entry Gate of The International Kolkata Book fair and we will get you the Battery Operated Car immediately”.

Mr. Chatterjee, however, said that “no such arrangements” were announced by them this year. As for the availability of wheelchairs at the fair, he said, “It was never the responsibility of the organisers to provide wheelchairs. It is up to those who have organised programmes for the elderly and disabled at the fair to make arrangements for wheelchairs.”

The activists who visited the fair earlier this week further alleged that “most of the stalls” had no ramps for the disabled, even as the organisers claimed they have instructed every stall owner to set up ramps.

According to the organisers, demonetisation has made “some impact” on the book fair.