The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Foul cry opens road-fix coffer

The day after Calcutta High Court rode roughshod over the government for its failure to repair roads, Writers' Buildings announced a Rs 8-crore crater-cover package, but not before protesting judicial intrusion in affairs of the state.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya and transport minister Subhas Chakraborty echoed chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's observation on Monday that the judiciary was 'overstepping its jurisdiction at times'.

Bhattacharya, who had been hauled up by the division bench of Justice A. Kabir and Justice A.K. Bishi for his failure to attend Monday's hearing on the road-repair issue, went a few steps further.

'Why do I have to go to the high court' I don't need to go even if the court calls me as CMDA chairman. I am chairman only in name. More important is the fact that I am a minister. The CMDA's views can be expressed by its officers in court,' Bhattacharya said at Writers'.

'The court's move seems to be politically motivated. The judges concerned wanted to show their strength by summoning a minister. Today, one minister has been summoned. Tomorrow, the chief minister would be summoned.

'The court can, under no circumstances, summon a minister, except in connection with a corruption or criminal case. I shall not go to court' Let the court send me to jail,' said Bhattacharya.

But what of the potholed roads that the city was having to suffer' 'We are aware of the bad road conditions, but we require huge funds for the repair. Will the court help us in arranging funds' demanded the minister.

There is, however, some road relief in sight before the festivities begin. 'Funds have been released and work will start immediately on a war footing. Potholes will be fixed before the Pujas (provided rain doesn't play spoilsport) and thorough repairs will be done later,' said the minister.

Of the Rs 5.8 crore released for repairs, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation will receive Rs 3 crore, the Howrah Municipal Corporation Rs 40 lakh and other municipalities the remaining Rs 2.4 crore.

In addition, Rs 50 lakh was cleared at Tuesday's meeting for tram track repairs, and another Rs 3 crore for repair of Salt Lake roads.

Transport minister Chakraborty took a swipe at the judiciary's role, in trademark style. He warned a time might come when the court would dictate the people's food habits and fix the hours of their sleep.

'The judiciary's unwanted intervention in administrative matters is threatening to create an untoward situation, which is embarrassing for both,' observed Chakraborty.

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