| Children on Friday protest the disruption of sporting activity at Deshapriya Park. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
The popular pitch for cricket to continue at Deshapriya Park reached the corridors of high court on Friday with a division bench hearing the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by residents to stop a fair overrunning the greens from next week.
Pratap Chatterjee, counsel for the petitioners along with Ushanath Banerjee, said: 'Our premise is you can't close down the park for any commercial activities. Section 353 of the CMC Act specifically provides that a park can be closed only for development or in public interest. The fair is neither.'
Chatterjee also argued that cricketers, morning walkers and others will not be able to exercise their rights because of the CMC decision to allow a khadi expo to take over the park from December 18 to January 14.
CMC counsel Alok Ghosh stressed that the permission for the fair had been given in 'greater public interest'.
The division bench of Chief Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice A.K. Ganguly directed the CMC to place all relevant documents regarding granting of permission for the fair on Monday.
Friday saw plenty of action at the park in peril, with protests starting from early morning. Mela noy khela chai was the slogan as residents led by local councillor Debasish Kumar staged a demonstration.
Later in the day, it was resolved that the mela organisers would not be allowed to stop sporting activity and put up stalls till the matter is settled in court.
Former mayor Subrata Mukherjee was vocal in his support for the park as playground: 'I made a mistake last year by allowing the khadi mela to be held at Maddox Square, but at least cricket matches aren't held there. We are crying ourselves hoarse over Sourav's non-inclusion, but turning a blind eye to the budding Souravs.'
The present civic board seemed to be going on to the back foot on Friday. Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, member, mayor-in-council (parks and gardens), said: 'The CMC had no idea about the sporting activities taking place in the park as neither the clubs nor the CAB had informed the custodian of the ground' We will wait for the court verdict.'
Asok Bhattacharya, minister for municipal affairs and a cricket enthusiast, told Metro from Siliguri that he would return to the city next week and take up the matter with the municipal commissioner.