The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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First citizen flouts law in festive fever

The charges: Despite being the city’s mayor, Subrata Mukherjee, as president of Ekdalia Evergreen Puja committee, has violated all the rules he has been appointed to protect. Some of them are:

6Three-fourths of Ekdalia Road have been blocked by the pandal; space has not been kept even for a fire engine to pass

6The branches of 15 trees have been hacked; as a result, some of them may wither and die

6As in the past years, the dozen or so loudspeakers that will be installed will cause sound pollution in the area, violating norms set by the pollution control board

6The massive structure will add to the traffic chaos at Gariahat, already in a mess because of the flyover construction

Mayor’S defence: First, let me clarify that the pujas are a mass movement and that no leader, no matter what his standing, wants to become unpopular by disrupting it in any way. I am one such leader.

But I am not conducting this puja as the city’s mayor; I am doing so as a resident of the area. So, my aim is not to find out whether some rule has been violated or not; I am there to ensure that the lakhs who turn up at my puja do not return disappointed. Hence, the big pandal, the loudspeakers and the lighting.

But, of course, there should be no major transgression of the law. The police are there to make sure of that. However, I also believe that given the fact that the Pujas provide the only free entertainment to the masses, we should learn to turn a blind eye to the law when the situation demands it. After all, no matter what the Marxists say, the Pujas are the only revolution that the state has witnessed, for everyone joins in for a cause. Can the chief minister prevent Pujas from being held in police stations' Just as he cannot prevent violations of the law, we, too, are unable to do so.

In a way, Durga puja is the only thriving industry in an otherwise barren state. It supports many ancillary industries.

I challenge anyone to prove that there have been any major violations of the law by my committee. Some trees may have been trimmed, but the branches can always grow back. For everything else, we have sought permission from the CMC and got it.

The moral of the story is: we actively encourage people to give donations; we actively encourage people to bear with the traffic jams; and we actively encourage people to listen to music on loudspeakers. What are the Pujas without all this'

nAnother report on Page 16

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