Calcutta, Aug. 22: Calcutta High Court today directed a construction company to pay a fine of Rs 10 lakh to the Visva-Bharati Apex Advisory Committee on Santiniketan for constructing a building within 500 metres of the varsity campus by flouting a central rule.
The bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi also directed the company, Arsuday Projects & Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, to pay Rs 25,000 to the petitioners — painter Jogen Chowdhury and another Santiniketan resident, Sushanta Tagore, as cost of the case.
“The construction company will also have to demolish its building (a three-storeyed housing project) within one month of receiving the copy of the court order,” the bench said.
The bench, however, stayed the implementation of the order for 15 days to give the company the opportunity to move the Supreme Court if it desired.
Chowdhury welcomed the verdict. “This should come as a warning to all those who plan housing projects wherever they want to without any thought for the environment. This housing project was in the middle of the khoai (a geological formation that is made up of laterite soil rich in iron oxide). It was very harmful for the environment. This verdict will help put a stop to all such future projects.”
Appearing for Visva-Bharati, advocate Kashikanta Moitra said: “If constructions are allowed adjacent to the varsity campus, the natural beauty of Santiniketan will be lost.”
Sampa Sarkar, the lawyer appearing for the petitioners, alleged in court that the Sriniketan-Santiniketan Development Authority (SSDA) had sanctioned the plan of the building against money.
A Visva-Bharati official said the Union minister of culture had set up the Visva-Bharati Apex Advisory Committee on Santiniketan in December 2010 to protect the university and its surroundings as a heritage site.
A director of Arsuday, Arpan Mitra, said: “We constructed the building with a no-objection certificate from the SSDA and also obtained permission from the local panchayat and the administration. We will challenge the order in the Supreme Court.”
The chief executive officer of the SSDA, Mridul Haldar, denied giving any no-objection certificate.