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HC seeks save-Victoria dossier
- Chief secretary to submit list of steps taken to protect monument

A high court division bench on Wednesday asked state chief secretary Samar Ghosh to file an affidavit listing the steps the government had taken to make the area around Victoria Memorial pollution-free.

“This court, on September 28, 2007, had set guidelines for making a 3km radius around the Victoria Memorial Hall complex a pollution-free zone. The chief secretary is hereby directed to file an affidavit in three weeks stating what steps his government had taken to follow the guidelines,” the bench of Justice P.C. Ghose and Justice M.K. Chaudhuri ruled.

The ruling followed an allegation by environment activist Subhas Datta that the government had been sitting on the order.

In the 2007 order, a division bench had asked the state government to relocate the Esplanade bus terminus and make the Maidan area greener.

Datta claimed Curzon Park and the area around Shahid Minar had since become worse. “The entire Curzon Park resembles a urinal and a garbage dump. The transport department has been using the park as an extension of the bus terminus, instead of trying to shift it,” Datta said.

The court had also asked the government to synchronise traffic movement around the marble monument to prevent snarls that cause a spurt in pollution and ban plying of heavy vehicles in the area at night. “Nothing has yet been done,” the petitioner claimed.

A green activist not involved in the case later said the pollution level increased every time there was a snarl as “vehicles spew more fume in the stop-start mode”. As for the Esplanade bus terminus, he said the huge amount of nitrogen oxide and particulate matters emitted by the vehicles corroded the marble structure only 1.5km away.

The 2007 order followed a public interest litigation by Datta in 2003, seeking the court’s intervention to protect the historic monument. He had tabled a report by the National Environment Engineering Research Institute, which had stated that pollution was destroying the outer surface of the Memorial.

Since then, acting on a court orders, the civic body has set up green zones around the monument, such as Mohar Kunja.