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Victoria leaks worry court

Calcutta High Court on Thursday expressed serious concern over the delay in repairing the roof of Victoria Memorial Hall and directed the authorities to mend the leaks as soon as possible. The high court also directed the state pollution control board (PCB) to conduct a spot inquiry on the progress of the repairs and file a status report before the court by June 16.

The division bench, comprising Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice D.P. Sengupta, said the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) should be made a party to the case, as a report on the Memorial hall by the ASI would help the bench get an idea about its present condition. The high court passed this order after a status report was furnished by Victoria Memorial Hall curator C.K. Panda, admitting that the roof of the hall had developed cracks and water would leak in during monsoon.

There was no representative of the state government at the day’s hearing. The court asked the state to appear in the matter and present its view on the condition of the monument.

The bench has asked the monument authorities to file an affidavit, stating details of the number of employees living within the memorial compound. The court also held that residents on the campus must have identity cards.

Environmental activist Subhas Dutta had earlier filed a case in the high court alleging that the century-old hall was losing its charm due to lack of maintenance. He also complained that pollution was destroying the hall’s outer surface.

On the basis of Dutta’s petition, the high court asked the memorial curator to file a status report on the hall. Appearing on behalf of the memorial authorities, Bikash Bhattacharya told the court on Thursday that fairs, held in winter on the Maidan, were adding to the pollution. He said the memorial authorities had asked the state government to prevent fairs on the Maidan.

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