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Panel on terminus shift

The high court on Friday set up a seven-member committee to shift the bus terminus from Esplanade and chalk out plans for the beautification and development of the area which the bench called “the heart of the town”.

“The committee will seek suggestions from experts and also from environment activist Subhas Dutta and suggest to the government how the heart of the town can be made pollution-free and beautiful,” Justice Ashim Kumar Banerjee, the senior judge of the division bench, said.

Acting on a petition by Dutta, the high court had in September 2007 ordered that the bus terminus be shifted at least 3km from Victoria Memorial to save the monument from vehicular pollution.

Chief secretary Sanjay Mitra will be the chairman of the committee while transport secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay will be its convener.

The others on the panel are PWD secretary Indiver Pandey, Calcutta Municipal Corporation commissioner Khalil Ahmed, GOC (Bengal area) Col R.P.S. Kahalon, police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha and a representative of Calcutta Port Trust.

The bench of Justice Banerjee and Justice Mrinal Kanti Chowdhury asked the committee to file a status report on November 22, when the case will come up for its next hearing.

The bench passed the directive after hearing the in-person submission of the transport secretary, CMC commissioner and the police commissioner.

Bandyopadhyay submitted before the bench that the state government had selected 10 acres in New Town for constructing a bus terminus.

“A high-rise building will be constructed there. The first and ground floors will be used as bus terminals and the rest will be put to commercial use,” Bandyopadhyay said.

He also submitted that the government has a six-acre plot at Howrah’s Mandirtala, “where a bus terminus would come up”.

Government buses, he said, are no longer terminating at Esplanade. “We have visited Bangalore and Delhi bus terminals and decided to implement the model here.”

The transport secretary alleged that the army was not co-operating with the state by providing land.

Representing the army, Col Mishra said: “The army is the custodian of the blue zone of the Maidan. If the state hands over the land to the army it can beautify the area.”

The blue zone is the open part of the Maidan, barring the area around Victoria Memorial. No construction is allowed in this part.

Municipal commissioner Ahmed said the civic body was ready to carry out any beautification programme if the court orders it.