A petition was filed on Tuesday at the city civil court, seeking an order restraining the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) from converting any part of the proposed underground parking lot in front of New Market into shops and other business establishments.
The petitioner, SS Hogg Market Traders’ Association president Babulal Gupta, described the decision of the civic authorities as “anti-people” and “against the interest of common tax-payers of the city”.
The ninth bench of the court admitted the petition and directed the CMC to file an affidavit stating its stand in regard to the allegation. The court said it would hear the matter on July 23.
Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, advocates David Mantosh and Juthi Banerjee told the court that it was a serious matter and relates to a heritage landmark. “The court should immediately intervene,” said Mantosh. They also claimed that even after being served a copy of the injunction, no one appeared on behalf of the CMC.
The traders’ lobby fears that the underground market will “kill New Market” before the Pujas. The heritage structure has been bleeding for a while, with custom shifting to the hi-tech malls and glitzy showrooms.
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee, however, dismissed the harm-to-heritage claim. In the underground parking lot, below the proposed pedestrian plaza of Lindsay Street, only glass cages, little more than the size of a car, will be visible, he pointed out. Hence, it would not clash with the sanctity of the heritage structure.
The proposed plaza will cost about Rs 20 crore and since the underground Parkomat has virtually no scope for billboard bucks, the shopping plaza is viewed as the revenue stream.
“Forward trading has started in the transaction of floor-space in the proposed market,” alleged mayoral council member in charge of markets Samsuzzaman Ansari, adding that though the official rate of salami has been fixed at Rs 8,000 per sq ft, floor-space is now being transferred at Rs 11,000 per sq ft.