Calcutta High Court on Wednesday issued a ten-day ultimatum to the state government to clean up the Victoria Memorial compound.
The court ordered the authorities to have the litter dumped at the southern gate of the Victoria Memorial premises removed. It also directed the government to ask the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) to move the materials it had dumped on the grounds adjacent to the Victoria Memorial Hall.
The order followed allegations by petitioner Subhas Dutta that, despite the court’s prior directive, the state government had not taken any steps to remove the garbage dumped by the HRBC during construction of the AJC Bose Road flyover.
The petitioner claimed that though the construction of the flyover had been completed a fortnight ago, the materials dumped on the grounds opposite SSKM Hospital had not been removed. They should be removed before the Durga Puja, Dutta added.
A division bench consisting of Justices A.K. Ganguly and S.P. Talukdar also directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to chalk out a long-term action plan for renovation of the Memorial and to prevent leakage of water from the roof of the monument. The plan is to be submitted before the court by November 10.
The court also asked the state Pollution Control Board (PCB) to create a comprehensive action plan to ensure the monument campus and its adjacent areas are pollution free.
The court had passed several directives to save the historic monument from structural damage caused by massive air pollution in the area.
A petition had been filed by Dutta alleging that the heritage monument was falling into disrepair due to poor management by the authorities. He also alleged that the outer surfaces of the monument were being damaged by air pollution.
The state transport department has already announced plans of regulating traffic on the roads around the monument to reduce air pollution levels.
The PCB also assured the court that it would not allow new industrial units, which might cause the air pollution level to increase in the area, to be set up.
The court had, in its August 6 order, asked the authorities to evict the squatters living in the quarters on campus as soon as possible.
But after a plea for an extension on this order by the Hall authorities on “compassionate grounds”, the court has allowed them more time to complete the eviction.