The high court on Tuesday directed the state transport department to file an affidavit stating the steps it had taken to shift the Esplanade bus terminal to a place at least 3km from Victoria Memorial.
“More than a year ago the Supreme Court had upheld a Calcutta High Court order for shifting the bus terminus from Esplanade. The Supreme Court had not set any time-frame for the shift. That does not mean the state would make extraordinary delay in carrying out the order,” the high court division bench of Justice Asim Banerjee and Justice Mrinal Kanti Choudhury observed, before asking the transport department to file the affidavit.
The bench also asked the traffic department of Calcutta police to state what it had done to synchronise the city’s traffic signals.
The division bench was hearing a petition moved by environment activist Subhas Datta in 2003, seeking a judicial order to save the memorial from air pollution.
The high court has passed several orders — including the one on shifting the bus terminus to a spot at least 3km from the memorial — aimed at curbing air pollution around the marble monument.
The state government had moved a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the shift order, issued on September 28, 2007. “The apex court had more than a year ago rejected the appeal and asked the state to shift the Esplanade bus terminus. But the state has not taken any action,” Dutta submitted in the high court on Tuesday.
The petitioner pointed out that the 2007 ruling also asked the transport department and the police to synchronise traffic signals across the city to minimise the waiting period of vehicles at signals and reduce air pollution.
“Traffic snarls result in a spurt in air pollution. The synchronisation will lead to a smooth flow of traffic around Victoria Memorial,” Dutta submitted.
Appearing for the state, advocate Sundaraditya Pal claimed that the police had already synchronised the signal system. “In some places, though, there are a few problems.”
Justice Banerjee said: “Since we are not experts on the matter, let the traffic department file an affidavit about the progress.”