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Buddha boost for rule-flout stage
- Fear of damage to Victoria Memorial

The chief minister wants cultural programmes to be organised regularly on the permanent stage in Citizens’ Park, which is about 100 metres from SSKM Hospital and in the green zone around Victoria Memorial.

“The cultural tradition of Bengal is our biggest asset…. The more such functions are organised here, the better,” said Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, at the closing ceremony of a seven-night soiree on the stage.

The organisers of the open-air programme, Association of Professional Performing Singers, had not obtained the mandatory clearance from police for use of loudspeakers. Moreover, loudspeakers are banned within 100 metres of a hospital.

Fifty small speakers placed around the park — recently christened Mohor Kunja — for the programme were not used on the final day of the soiree after Metro highlighted how environment norms were being flouted.

Retired Justice Bhagabati Prasad Banerjee, who had issued a verdict in the 1990s to curb noise pollution, opposed the plan to organise programmes on the recently inaugurated permanent stage.

“Nobody has the right to make anyone a captive listener. Visitors to the park may not like to listen to music. But with loudspeakers blaring, they have no choice,” he said.

Banerjee pointed out that loudspeaker use within 100 metres of a hospital is a punishable offence under Noise (Regulation and Control) Act, 2000.

Environment activist Subhas Dutta said: “If programmes are regularly held on the stage, the green patch will be damaged, causing re-suspension of dust with an increase in footfall. This will eventually damage Victoria Memorial.”

He added that he would soon bring the matter to the notice of the high court, which had issued a series of directives to reduce air pollution around the Memorial.

The Pune-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, a central government body, had found in 2005 that dust was the main reason behind the damage to the outer walls of the marble monument.

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