India's Calcutta 'to be painted blue'

image captionCalcutta landmarks, and the city's distinctive yellow taxis are to be painted blue

The eastern Indian city of Calcutta is to be painted blue, a local minister has said.

Government buildings, flyovers, roadside railings, and taxis should be painted a shade of light blue, a minister in the ruling Trinamul Congress government said.

Owners of private buildings will be also be requested to paint them in the same colour, the minister said.

The capital of West Bengal, Calcutta is home to more than 14 million people.

"Our leader [chief minister of West Bengal] Mamata Banerjee has decided that the theme colour of the city will be sky blue because the motto of the new government is 'the sky is the limit'," Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim told The Indian Express newspaper.

"From now on, all government buildings, whenever they are re-painted, will be done in sky blue. The owners of private buildings will also be requested to follow the same colour pattern. The necessary government orders will be issued soon."

The colour of the city's famous yellow taxis are going to be changed to light blue and white, while a number of famous landmarks are likely to be repainted too, reports say.

'Cosmetic change'

The owners of private buildings will have to pay from their own funds to repaint their premises, the minister said.

"Blue is a beautiful colour and is also soothing for the eyes," Calcutta mayor Sobhan Chatterjee said.

The announcement has been criticised by opposition parties and sections of the media.

A local Congress party spokesman said the government was "preoccupying itself with non-essential issues".

The city's Telegraph newspaper said the "notion of a cosmetic change is taken to unprecedented heights of innovation by the idea" of painting Calcutta blue.

"Finding the right colour combination is undoubtedly the crucial first step in making a city safer, healthier, cleaner and generally more user-friendly for its inhabitants," the newspaper wrote in an editorial.

"It could, with as little doubt, sort out its core problems - chaotic health care, inability to implement pollution control norms, arsenic in the water, archaic sewers and garbage disposal, bad roads, killer buses for public transport, an airport falling apart and beyond dismal, priceless paintings rotting away in public art galleries, to name a few."

Other Indian cities have colour-based themes.

The northern Indian city of Jaipur is famously dubbed the Pink City after its terracotta-colour dwellings.

In 2006, Aurangabad, a crime-infested city in the state of Bihar, was painted pink in order to uplift, according to authorities, its sagging morale and spirit.

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