Victoria Memorial Hall could be capped ' by polythene ' in Victoria Terminus (VT) style.
A division bench of Calcutta High Court on Monday asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to 'seriously consider' the proposal of environment activist Subhas Dutta to protect the Memorial, following a Mumbai model.
The step to cover the monument's dome in transparent polythene is more specifically aimed at protecting the paintings threatened by water seeping through the ceiling.
The division bench, comprising Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice Tapan Dutt, told the ASI that this should be done till a permanent solution to the seepage is found.
'I have seen VT station in Mumbai covered with polythene during the monsoon,' observed Justice Ganguly. 'If it can be done there, why can't it be done for Victoria Memorial' The ASI will have to inform the court on the progress made on this front by September 1.
The court's order comes in the wake of S.P. Chowbey, an ASI superintendent, informing the court that it was impossible for the department's engineers to repair the dome of the Memorial by October 15.
'It is a fact that the rainwater is leaking from the dome. But repairs cannot be carried out during the rainy season,' the lawyer representing the ASI pleaded.
Dutta then asked the court to direct the ASI to take necessary steps to plug the seepage. 'The Victoria Memorial Hall should be covered with polythene till the dome is repaired and the articles inside secured,' he stressed.
At this, Calcutta Municipal Corporation lawyer Alok Ghosh raised an objection, saying such an arrangement 'would be unacceptable' to Calcuttans. 'The entire structure would look ridiculous with polythene covering the dome,' argued Ghosh.
But this was dismissed by the bench. 'It is more important to protect the priceless articles displayed and stored in the hall,' said the judges, who also ticked off the ASI for failing to repair the dome for so long.
'Since you have failed to repair it so far, you will have to cover the dome so that there is no seepage.' they concluded.