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Green hazard for city’s lungs

Makeshift toilets are being built for a pilgrims’ camp on the Maidan, in alleged violation of a high court order.

Environment activist Subhas Datta said on Monday that the lungs of the city were being mauled. “I found 200 makeshift latrines being built on the Maidan by the state public health engineering department. They will create enormous environmental hazard.”

Datta has sent a complaint to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, seeking her intervention.

Metro found a series of holes, around six to eight feet deep, dug up opposite the Eden Gardens and adjacent to the Mohun Bagan grounds. “We will dig deeper,” said a contractor supervising the work.

The human and other waste that will collect would be unhygienic and harmful for the environment, especially the ground water in the area.

Datta said a high court bench presided over by Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh had in February 2012 directed the state government, the local military authority, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and him to visit the site of the Gangasagar pilgrims’ camp and “prepare a comprehensive plan for a pollution-free camps or to find an alternative site”.

“No step has been initiated by any of the authorities,” said Datta, suggesting bio-toilets may be a good alternative.

Public health engineering minister Subrata Mukherjee told Metro he was unaware of any such court directive. “Nothing can be changed now. We are in the final stage of making arrangements for lakhs of pilgrims. Bio-toilets are not feasible for so many people,” he said, admitting that shifting the camp site may be the only permanent solution.

Debasish Kumar, a mayoral council member, said the civic body only provides services such as water supply and garbage disposal for the camp.