The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Poll assault on campus
- A day after Calcutta voted, Metro visited the seats of learning taken over by the Election Commission

Where: National Library
When: 2.30 pm
What we saw: Three temporary sheds of tarpaulin and bamboo half-dismantled. The greens littered with waste paper, leftover food packets, bamboo sticks, ropes and used plastic packets. Gaping holes dug to plant bamboo poles for the shed.

To add fuel to the filth, library employees gathered the garbage, dumped it in the middle of the campus and set it ablaze. As a result, the entire campus was filled with smoke and stench, forcing the readers to hold handkerchieves to their noses.

A member of the decorator army, busy dismantling the sheds, said: 'You can see how much work remains to be done. How can we say when the mess will be cleared'

Where: Calcutta University, Alipore campus
When: 3 pm
What we saw: A portion of the Alipore campus has been taken over by polling personnel. A makeshift shed has been constructed on the courtyard to store poll-related material.

The greens are dotted with garbage dumps. Saal-leaf plates, earthen cups, plastic cups and green coconut shells are scattered everywhere. Food packets and leftovers are raising a stink inside the building.

And there is no respite in sight, as the building has been requisitioned till May 15 for the counting of ballots.

'We fear things will only get worse in the coming days,' said an official on campus.

Where: Rabindra Bharati University, BT Road campus
When: 3.30 pm
What we saw: The campus is being used as a receiving and distribution centre for seven Assembly seats; it will also be used for counting on May 11. The approach to the university office from the main gate is lined with buses, trucks, Matadors and taxis. The empty spaces are occupied by Calcutta Police personnel keeping guard. The rest of the campus is all about shamianas for distribution and receiving. Piles of garbage, comprising polythene sheets, paper and food packets, are everywhere.

'The Election Commission has taken over the entire academy building. The classrooms have been converted into strong rooms. The chairs and tables have been moved out to the shamianas. Noisy vehicles are continuously moving in and out,' said a senior official.

Where: 20B, Judge's Court Road, home to the Institute of Education for Women, State Institute of Physical Education for Women and Multipurpose Government Girls School
When: 4.30 pm
What we saw: Every inch of the premises has been taken over by the poll men and machinery.

The principal's room is now the district magistrate's control room; the staff room the observer's cell. The sprawling lawns are parking lots, shamianas and urinals dot the grounds.

'Every time they leave behind numerous broken chairs and tables, and bills for repairs are never entertained. We will have to clean the mess and bear the expenses,' grumbled an administrative official on the beleaguered campus.

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