The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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'Polluter' clubs taken to court
- Green groups say govt has done nothing to clean up sullied sarovar

Calcutta, Sept. 3: With the government casting a blind eye on the pollution in Rabindra Sarovar, the high court is set to step in.

The green groups and the morning walkers' association had appealed the court saying the pollution was rampant and nothing was being done to save the sarovar and a division bench accepted the call for its intervention. The case will be heard early next week.

'We have been hearing about beautification of the lake for quite sometime, but nothing has happened yet. Some of the clubs are still flouting court directives and the agencies entrusted with enforcing the guidelines are keeping mum,' environmental activist Subhas Dutta said.

The court is now likely to take it upon itself to ensure that the lake is beautified and its standard upgraded to make it eligible for a central scheme to conserve national lakes.

'The sarovar has lost its charm because of bad maintenance by the Calcutta Improvement Trust (CIT),' Dutta told the court yesterday.

Morning walkers under the Sarovar Bachao Committee and Dutta also alleged that the trust was equally responsible for the rising pollution in the area. 'Not only the clubs' the CIT itself has a huge godown in the area,' said Kalol Guha Thakurta, the lawyer appearing on behalf of the Sarovar Bachao Committee. 'We will ask the court to shift the godown immediately.'

Quoting a recent CIT survey report, Guha Thakurta said four clubs have encroached into the lake area, but no action has been taken against them despite court directives. 'The clubs are guilty of spoiling the lake water.'

Speaking for the clubs, lawyer Saptangshu Basu demanded a joint probe involving the CIT and the alleged encroachers. 'The allegations of encroachment and pollution is baseless. Let a bigger inquiry be ordered and then see who is to be blamed,' Basu said. 'The clubs are not polluting the water in any way.'

Dutta said on two different occasions, water samples collected from the lake had shown that it was not fit for bathing, but the government did not react. 'Initially, they undertook a few programmes, but now they are not following the norms to maintain the water quality,' Guha Thakurta alleged.

He said the CIT and other government departments had announced programmes to beautify the lake and its surroundings. 'But nothing was done. We want to record the government's statement in court. Let the department concerned say that it is beautifying the lake,' Dutta said today.

Sumit Panja, the lawyer for the CIT, said the clubs have elaborate plans to beautify the lake and the agency will inform the court in due course. He added: 'The allegations of pollution and the agency doing nothing about it is wrong.'

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