The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Quit call in save-Lakes suit
- MLA action against eviction pushes petitioner to brink

Failing to keep the faith in a system where flouting of a court order is considered par for the course, the group pushing for the preservation of Rabindra Sarobar has decided to pull out its petition.

The Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity, which had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) pressing for eviction of nearly 60,000 illegal settlers along the railway tracks between Tollygunge and Ballygunge, said on Wednesday that it would withdraw the petition as it had “lost faith”. Samity general secretary Subhas Dutta said it would convey its decision to the court on August 1, when the case comes up for hearing.

The Samity, struggling to save the “lungs of south Calcutta”, said the manner in which the Trinamul Congress — especially MLA Sougata Roy — had publicly denounced the court’s eviction order, was the final straw.

“He (Roy) openly announced that he and his party would not allow the court order regarding eviction of illegal settlers from along the Lakes to be implemented. If he can say this with impunity, without any step being taken to censure him, what is the point in our pursuing the case'” asked Dutta. “To protest his behaviour, we have decided to withdraw our petition on the next date of hearing”.

Dutta was referring to the MLA-led mass dip in the Lakes on Sunday and his pledge to resist the eviction “till our last breath”. This, the petitioner claimed, was tantamount to contempt of court. “How can he say ‘rahenge ya marenge (we stay or we die)’ when there is a court order waiting to be implemented'”

Roy, meanwhile, said he and the Sarobar settlers he represented would “welcome the Samity’s disassociation” from the PIL because “it has nothing do with the Dhakuria Lakes”. The Trinamul leader stressed that he and the settlers would continue adopting various programmes in the days ahead to “resist the implementation of the court order”.

Dutta also drew attention to the fact that Roy, in 2001, had given an undertaking before the court that the squatters would leave the place on their own if they were given four months’ time. All the sides had agreed to the proposal and, accordingly, the court had granted the prayer of the MLA.

“What is the point of court orders if the politician does not bother to pay heed to them'” wondered Dutta. “We are fed up.”

Eviction of squatters from along the railway lines between Ballygunge and Tollygunge has long been a contentious issue. Before the Samity filed the case, demanding beautification of the Sarobar in 1997, the Eastern Railway authorities had repeatedly tried in vain to evict the illegal occupants.

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