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Court allows Central pool funds for Bantala

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that the West Bengal government could utilise Rs 10 crore from the Central pool to establish common effluent treatment plants (CETP) at the Calcutta Leather Complex (CLC).

A division bench of Justices M.B. Shah and Arun Kumar said the state government could claim and use the “remaining balance” due from the Centre to establish all the four modules of the CETP and posted the matter to July 24 for further hearings.

The judges pulled up the Centre for its set of two contradictory affidavits, one agreeing to bear 50 per cent of the total expenses to establish the CETP, and the other refusing to bear the expenses for the final two modules of the plants.

When state advocate-general Balai Ray pointed this out to the court, the judges, while the hearing was on, urgently called the attorney-general (A-G) to the court, and indicated that contempt proceedings might have to begin against the Centre. However, in the absence of the A-G, additional solicitor-general Altaf Ahmed appeared in court and tendered an apology.

Ahmed said it was not proper on the Centre’s part to back out of its earlier commitment of sharing 50 per cent of the expenses. At this, the judges said: “It is now open to the state government” to utilise the remaining money due from the Centre and go ahead and get the CETP in all the four modules ready within 15 days.

Appearing for about 125 Calcutta leather tanneries, counsel Debaprasad Mukherjee told the court that the CLC should be finished soon for smooth functioning of the tanneries.

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