The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Maidan makeover under monitor

Calcutta, Dec. 5: Calcutta High Court today laid out a host of directives to ensure a clean Maidan.

Responding to a public interest litigation, a division bench of chief justice A.K. Mathur and justice A.K. Bannerjee apportioned responsibilities to specific agencies and ordered setting up of a watchdog.

The responsibility of keeping the Maidan clean was placed on the state public works department (PWD), which was asked to take “all possible steps” to tidy it up and beautify.

The court ruled that any political party, group or organisation wanting to hold a rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds would have to take permission from the PWD, apart from police. If the PWD allowed a rally, it would have to clean up the resultant mess.

It asked the department to plant more trees and protect those that are there.

Calcutta police were asked to ensure that no breach of law took place on the Maidan, which is now often the site of criminal activities.

The judges recommended to the government a watchdog committee for the Maidan with representatives from the PWD, police and the army. They overruled the state government’s objection to involving the army on the grounds that it could lead to Delhi’s interference.

They refused to be dragged into the controversy — between the government and the army — over who controlled the Maidan. Far more important to the judiciary was the health of the city’s lungs, the judges said, responding to an affidavit by the state government that countered the army’s claims to the ownership of the Maidan.

The litigant, Subhas Datta of the Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samiti, had alleged that the Brigade Parade Grounds were being defiled because government agencies responsible for upkeep were shirking their duty. Years of neglect, the petition said, had led to a colossal build-up of human and other waste and denudation of the greenery.

The court took cognisance of the complaint and extended the scope of the litigation beyond the Brigade Parade Grounds to cover the entire Maidan. All the allegations were accepted by the court, which admitted that the place was being used as a public toilet and for criminal activities.

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