The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Original cry for fair

Calcutta, Jan. 3: The book fair organisers want to stick to its “original venue”.

An affidavit submitted by the Publishers and Booksellers Guild in the high court today did not mention the Maidan, but did not leave anyone in doubt that the organisers don’t want the fair to be shifted, ever. The stand echoes that of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

“They (five respondents to the case) are duty-bound to assist and help us to hold the fair on its original venue,” the affidavit said, seeking permission to hold the fair between January 31 and February 11.

The five respondents are the state government, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, the fire services department, the state Pollution Control Board and the army, which is the custodian of the Maidan and is opposed to allowing any fairs on it because that destroys the greenery.

Echoing Bhattacharjee — who said in November that he wanted the Maidan to be the permanent venue and that the government would file a petition — the guild said this was the only suitable venue. Any shift would affect “enthusiasm”, it added.

But the original venue of the book fair was a different part of the Maidan — the ground opposite Rabindra Sadan — not the site near Park Street the organisers are eyeing now.

The petition, jointly filed by the guild and its general secretary Tridib Chatterjee, is to come up for hearing on Friday.

A similar case had come up last January when the Bhattacharjee government gave an undertaking that the 2006 book fair would be the last one on the Maidan. The court accepted the plea and gave permission for the fair.

In today’s 24-page petition, last year’s case is not mentioned. Subhash Dutta, the environment activist whose petition prompted the court to declare the Maidan a no-fair zone in 2003, has not even been made party to the case.

“The petition is a clear departure from what the government had pleaded last time… It is strange that I have not been made a party to the case, but I will oppose the petition in the court,” Dutta said.

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