The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Red Buddha in green battle cry
• Zero in on plastic waste
• Save greenery
• Protect wildlife
• Preserve wetlands
• Expand environment education
• Eliminate noise pollution
• Ditto, smoke pollution
• Protect personal hygiene and public health
• Spread awareness of environment laws
• Protect nature and natural resources
• Improve urban and rural environment
• Conserve water by rainwater harvesting
• End misuse of drinking water

First, paint the town red. Then, promise to go green.

After the triumph in the political battle for Calcutta, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has drawn up measures to try and win the (far tougher, some would say) environmental war.

The dream may be a distant one, but the direction taken by the chief minister is sure to warm a heart closer home — that of daughter Suchetana, who has picked environment and wildlife preservation as her personal portfolio.

Bhattacharjee’s green drive, officials at Writers’ Buildings said on Thursday, stems from his determination to showcase Calcutta as an investment destination.

Bhattacharjee has made it clear to all developmental authorities and other concerns that there will be “no compromise with environmental norms’’, said an official at Writers’ Buildings.

“The initiative is not an insular one. It is actually part of his larger campaign for the industrialisation of Bengal, as well as his expression of concern over the series of complaints he has been receiving from people with regard to the city’s environmental degradation,” he added

The grumbles range from the rapid filling up of wetlands to the indiscriminate felling of trees to the relentless threat of auto emission.

On Thursday, Bhattacharjee, at a meeting of the state cabinet, broached the possibility of setting up a court to handle cases of poaching and felling of trees.

This comes in the wake of his recent directive to the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) to prepare a detailed report on the initiatives taken to protect the environment in the city and its suburbs.

“A detailed report will be submitted to the chief minister,’’ said WBPCB member-secretary Shyamal Sarkar.

The report, to be submitted by June 5 — World Environment Day — will contain findings that have emerged out of a few hundred awareness camps, seminars, workshops and training programmes that the WBPCB has hosted, involving educational institutions and NGOs.

The pressure points for environmental reforms are growing. “We are getting financial and technical assistance from Japan and Canada for improving the environment. Canada is providing assistance in technology change in the polluting industries in the city, while Japan is helping us procure equipment and expand environmental activities,’’ said Writers’ officials.

Applauding the chief minister’s proposed moves, Ajoyendra Mukherjee, vice-president of Tata Consultancy Services, said environment must be linked with industrialisation.

“The concept of a factory as a long chimney billowing out black smoke has changed with the introduction of modern technology. So, protection of environment must be taken into consideration during setting up of any industry. This is a global phenomenon,” asserted Mukherjee.

According to him, TCS and other information technology (IT) companies have urged the chief minister and industry minister Nirupam Sen “to save the IT hub in the Salt Lake Electronics Complex from pollution caused by dust, smoke and other hazards”.

The intention at the top, feel environment watchers, may be honourable, but the implementation on the ground has been woeful. That has to change, if Calcutta is to breathe easy.

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