Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today flagged off two double decker buses for sightseeing the heritage and cultural trails of the city followed by a ride on the Hooghly that will be conducted during the festive days.

Miss Banerjee said that the hoodless double-decker buses are akin to those that ply on London roads. The trip would be conducted in two slots ~ 10:30 am to 1:30 pm and 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and Lok Prasar Shilpi folk artists will perform in the bus during the ride, she said.

The trail will cover the iconic landmarks of Victoria Memorial, Fort William, St John’s Church, GPO, Old Currency Building, St Andrews Church, Dalhousie Square, Great Eastern Hotel, Curzon Park, Town Hall, Eden Gardens, Lal Dighi, Princep Ghat, Babughat and others.

Bookings will be available on WBTDCL websitewww. wbtdcl.com from 23 October. Deliberating on the rapid Covid spread, Miss Banerjee said an alert has been issued in Maharashtra and urged people to wear masks as well as maintain physical distance while visiting puja pandals. We have to be cautious in following Covid protocol so as to ensure that the infection does not spread further, she added.

Reiterating that cultural programmes would not be allowed near puja pandals, Miss Banerjee suggested holding such programmes in halls and open air theatres with sitting capacity of 100.

On the occasion, Miss Banerjee announced that Amazon logistic hub has started operating at Uluberia logistics park and the venture will create scope for over 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. Amazon will provide services in the east and north eastern areas. Flipkart has already started operating at the logistics hub from 12 March with over 2,000 crore investment and henceforth more companies will start operating from the logistics hub, said Miss Banerjee. Meanwhile Miss Banerjee today urged the Centre not to withdraw the recently introduced Kolkata-London flight and assured all kinds of facilities so as to enable more passengers to board it.

State chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay will write a letter in this regard to the Civil Aviation Ministry. “It was after pursuing the Centre for 10 to 12 years that the direct flight to Europe was started recently and we want it to continue. If needed we are ready to offer whatever facilities are required,” said Miss Banerjee.

To ensure that more passengers are able to board the flight and make travel seamless, the state government has decided to conduct Covid test for the passengers who arrive at Kolkata International Airport from London following complaints of difficulties from passengers in undergoing the test which is a lengthy process before boarding the flight. “If the flight carrying the passengers is sanitised well then we will conduct a rapid test after arrival. Passengers who are tested negative will be allowed entry while the government will make arrangements for taking the remaining passengers to either safe homes or hospitals. We feel more passengers will get an opportunity to board the flight by this process,” said Miss Banerjee.

According to Miss Banerjee Kolkata is the gateway to north eastern states as well as Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha. “We want a state like West Bengal having an international airport facility to have direct connectivity to Europe.

As the passenger load for European countries is very high the state government wants the Kolkata-London flight to be considered a permanent flight route”, she said adding that former chief secretary Rajiva Sinha had written to the Ministry earlier and now the issue will be pursued by Bandopadhyay.