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Fair mess apathy a jolt for high court

Calcutta High Court on Wednesday expressed anguish over the indifferent attitude of the state government in complying with the order of the court to remove garbage and other materials dumped on the grounds adjacent to the Victoria Memorial Hall after the seasonal fairs were over.

A division bench of Calcutta High Court, comprising Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice Soumitra Sen, directed the government to take steps for cleaning the grounds immediately.

It also directed that the court-appointed special officer, along with the counsel for respondents as well as the petitioner, would visit the grounds again on December 12, 2003, and file a report before the court at 1 pm the same day.

The court order was passed on the basis of a petition filed by environmental activist Subhas Dutta. It alleged that the government, even after giving an undertaking before the court, did not take steps to clear the garbage and other materials, including plastic bags, from the grounds adjacent to the Victoria Memorial complex after the Handicrafts Fair ended.

Dutta submitted several photographs in support of his petition and sought an order of the court directing the government to take steps to clean the grounds.

Government pleader Rabilal Moitra unequivocally told the court that he had visited the grounds and found that everything was in order.

Hearing the plea of the petitioner, the division bench on Wednesday appointed Dipak Deb a special officer and asked him to visit the spots.

The court also asked Pollution Control Board lawyer Manik Chandra Das, pleader Rabilal Moitra and petitioner Dutta to make a trip to the grounds, along with the special officer..

The team visited the spot, and the special officer in his report said that the allegation made in the petition was true. He said that even 10 days after the fair was over, most of the garbage was still lying there. The report stated that 46 temporary toilets and urinals had not been cleaned yet.

On examining the report, the court expressed “shock” and observed that the government “should be more serious to realise the problem”.

Referring to its order dated November 27, 2003, the court said that it had allowed the government to hold fairs on the grounds till April 14, 2004, on condition that it would take every possible step to clean the grounds after they were over.

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