Cyclone Amphan ravages College Street — Kolkata's one of a kind book market

Dotted with makeshift bookstalls along both sides of the road, College Street is a one-of-a-kind book market in the world that draws locals and tourists alike from every nook and cranny of the globe.

FP Staff May 24, 2020 14:26:29 IST
Cyclone Amphan ravages College Street — Kolkata's one of a kind book market

As Cyclone Amphan tore through the coastal states of West Bengal and Odisha this week, snapshots of a ravaged College Street, Kolkata's beloved book market, took over Twitter timelines.

Cyclone Amphan ravages College Street  Kolkatas one of a kind book market

"This place is as Kolkata as the city can get, and now it's destroyed," wrote one user. Image via Twitter/@hahahaharshit

Apu Dey, a key member of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, said that the COVID-19 induced lockdown had stalled publications before the Bengali New Year on 14 April, and now cyclone Amphan has turned things difficult for publishers and book sellers of College Street. It is estimated that the losses incurred by the booksellers could run into lakhs.

“However, if you also take into account the seeping of water book binding units as well, where printed pages are bound in volumes, the losses can be more, may run into a crore,” Dey said.

Cyclone Amphan ravages College Street  Kolkatas one of a kind book market

Books, destroyed by Cyclone Amphan, lie scattered around the historic College Street. Image via Twitter/@UtpalPa87048918

“Our world is tremendously affected. The first attack was by COVID-19, followed by two months of lockdown and then Amphan. Thousands of books kept in locked book stores have been soiled,” Guild President Tridib Chatterjee said.

The Deb Sahitya Kutir, an old publishing house, said it has incurred heavy losses as thousands of printed pages ready for binding were damaged, besides printed books, as water seeped below closed shutters.

Cyclone Amphan ravages College Street  Kolkatas one of a kind book market

The history of the place goes back to the time when the Hindu College was established in 1817, later renamed as the Presidency College. Image via Twitter/@hahahaharshit

Now that the market stands utterly destroyed, it could take months to get rehabilitate its many stores. While some publishers and store owners could rush to College Street to check the damage done by the cyclone, many who live in the districts could not as trains are not running because of the lockdown, said Dey.

Cyclone Amphan ravages College Street  Kolkatas one of a kind book market

Water entered closed outlets of booksellers, publishers, damaging printed books and pages ready for binding. Image via Twitter/@hahahaharshit

A 50-something man was seen sitting near his pavement stall staring at the textbooks that got soaked and damaged in rainwater. “I am finished,” he uttered.

Cyclone Amphan ravages College Street  Kolkatas one of a kind book market

Social media users shared 'heartbreaking' images of an inundated College Street. Image via Twitter/@_suparna13

Dotted with makeshift bookstalls along both sides of the road, College Street is a one-of-a-kind book market in the world that draws locals and tourists alike from every nook and cranny of the globe.

The history of College Street goes back to the time when the Hindu College was established in 1817, which was later renamed as the Presidency College. Other major educational institutions also came up along the stretch during the 19th century.

(With inputs from Press Trust of India)

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