| A league match being played on the Deshapriya Park grounds on Thursday. Picture by Amit Datta
The push to save sporting activity on Deshapriya Park from being stumped by a fair picked up pace on Thursday with 20 residents of the area filing a public interest litigation (PIL).
In the PIL moved by legal counsel Pratap Chatterjee, Rupak Ranjan Roy and others have accused the civic and state authorities of 'depriving the tax-payers' of their right to use the park for jogging and youngsters the right to play cricket by giving the greens over to a trade fair for a month.
The writ petition (No. 23987W of 2005 versus the state of West Bengal and others) is scheduled to come up on Friday before the division bench of Chief Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice Ashok Ganguly.
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has granted permission to the West Bengal Khadi & Village Board to hold an expo on the park grounds from December 18, 2005 to January 14, 2006. This throws the match schedules of four cricket clubs haywire, and shuts the doors on coaching clinics for a crucial four weeks.
On Thursday, the clubs and the petitioners found a sympathetic voice in former civic chief Subrata Mukherjee. 'This is a criminal offence. How could they do this to the one organised park in south Calcutta and rob the youngsters of their right to play cricket' he thundered.
Mukherjee, who had spent Rs 42 lakh from the CMC coffers to beautify the park, has written to the chief minister and is also writing to the mayor, in an appeal to stop the fair and save the park.
'I will also join the local residents in their protest movement at the park tomorrow,' Mukherjee told Metro on Thursday.
Local councillor Debasish Kumar, who had pleaded with the civic body and Writers' Buildings to prevent the fair from disrupting cricket and other recreational activities on the green square, has plans to launch a hunger strike with cricket trainees on Rashbehari Avenue from Friday morning.
'I see no reason why the CMC should stop competitive cricket and jeopardise fledgling careers to sell khadi apparel. They could easily do it elsewhere,' snapped Hironmoy Chatterjee, honorary general secretary of Dakshin Kalikata Sansad (DKS).
The club, which features in the First Division of the CAB League, had partnered the Corporation in the beautification drive and spends Rs 25,000 every month on maintenance and 24x7 security.
If mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya had wondered why such a big deal was being made of cricket not being played for 'just a month', DKS coach Phatik Guha Thakurta pointed out how the fair would ruin the whole season.
'If they dig up the wicket, we can't prepare a new one so soon and our boys will have to play without any practice from next week,' he lamented.