| Bamboo barricades go up on the Maidan on Friday to demarcate the Calcutta Book Fair boundary. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
The morning after Calcutta High Court decided to play a more direct part in the preservation of the Maidan, Calcutta Police geared up for a 'pro-active role' on the greens.
Commissioner of police Prasun Mukherjee will flag off the force's intentions by undertaking an extensive tour of the Maidan on Saturday. The objective of the exercise is to identify and gauge problems plaguing the city's lungs.
'We will definitely ensure that the Maidan's preservation goes according to the court's plan. Once we get a copy of the court order, we will be in a better position to comment, but as things stand now, police have to play a key role in preserving the Maidan from decay,' Mukherjee told Metro.
Sources in the police department, however, said the force was apprehensive about some points emerging from the recent decision of the army to allow 'plotting of the Maidan' on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road rim of the Maidan by corporate houses.
'There seems to be a lot of confusion at the moment in the way the Maidan preservation has been going on, but with the initiative to save the green coming from the top, we will do what is best for the people of Calcutta,' said a senior police officer.
Immediate cop action should focus on law and order and cleanliness, officials added.
'The Maidan is not a garden and, therefore, slapping an entry fee should not be allowed. This is not our vision of the Maidan's preservation. The city's only lung cannot be commercialised,' stressed Subhas Dutta, the petitioner spearheading the save-Maidan campaign.
Supporting its move of inviting private partners and allowing them to plot portions of the Maidan, the army on Friday clarified that it did not have the funds to initiate a preservation programme on its own.
'Due to paucity of resources, the army is asking for a commitment from corporate houses to implement schemes for development of parks. The army is in no way involved in mobilisation of funds for this purpose,' stated an army spokesperson.
Green lobby activists, who have been campaigning for morning-walkers' entry to the Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) race-course ground on non-race days, said on Friday they would step up their campaign. 'The race course in Mumbai allows morning-walkers on non-race days. Why can't the race course here, occupying so much of the Maidan, allow the same' demanded Dutta.