The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The green as garbage dump
- Remains of Salvage Day

The day after being trampled by 16 lakh rallyists, pierced by hundreds of poles, singed by kitchen fires and sullied by makeshift toilets, the Maidan on Monday struggled to start breathing again.

By evening, some of the monumental mess left behind by the CPM rally on Brigade Parade Grounds had been cleared, but a lot of garbage remained to be removed and so many gaping wounds on the greens were yet to be tended to.

The foggy morning on the Maidan brought not just an army of CPM cadre and Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) workers to clean the green, but also schoolchildren practising their Republic Day parade.

And march they did, on plastic bags and cups, on the paper and the peels, and past the stench arising out of the open drains used as toilets by the hordes on Sunday.

Armymen, too, steered clear of their Maidan, sticking instead to the periphery of what was a portrait of the green as a garbage dump.

And if chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was busy signing and sending a goodwill bat to Lahore for Sourav Ganguly, budding batsmen looking for their daily morning dose of Maidan cricket were faced by a sea of filth and could not even find a clean square place to pitch their stumps.

From around 7.30 am, the clean-up brigade arrived for Mission Impossible ' cleaning up the Maidan before the day was done.

Fanning out across the green, they picked up the garbage by hand, shoved it into big white plastic bags and then dumped the bags into a waiting CMC truck.

Some eight hours and seven truckloads of trash later, when the cleaners left the green, most small items of garbage had cleared.

But the remains of the day made a sore sight for the eyes ' a flood of feathers from the chicken feast on Sunday afternoon, a pile of plates from the meals and snacks served through rally day, dirty drains clogged by plastic, plates and paper, a sparkling white 'VIP urinal' left hanging from a pole draped in red, and holes driven deep into the city's lungs by bamboo poles.

'We still have a day in hand to clean up the Maidan but almost everything is done. The little work that remains, including clearing of the drains, will be completed by Tuesday,' said a party representative overseeing the salvage operation in the lungs of the city.

The party, he added, would have to pay Rs 250 for each truck trip bearing the garbage from the Maidan to Dhapa dumping ground.

Also, the decorating firm responsible for the Brigade bandobast would not receive its full payment unless it filled up every hole on the ground, he pronounced.

Rajiv Shankar Bhattacharjee, a regular visitor to the Maidan, summed up the frustration of countless Calcuttans: 'They will just fill up the holes with sand, pick up the rubbish and leave. But what happens to the damage caused to this precious patch of green' Why is no one bothered'

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