The Telegraph
Thursday , February 11 , 2010
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Army sees red over greens

The army “refused to accept” the littered and mauled Maidan that the CPM tried to palm off on Wednesday and gave the party two more days to clean up the greens trampled by lakhs during Sunday’s rally.

The day after the army’s 48-hour clean-up deadline had passed, a Fort William team led by Col Debasish Mitra visited the Maidan armed with video images of the mauled parts captured around 10am on Wednesday.

Niranjan Chatterjee, a CPM leader tasked with returning the Maidan to its pre-rally condition, a PWD engineer and some police officers joined the army team.

The custodians of the Maidan expressed satisfaction over the condition of the rally site but pointed out that the fringes, as the footage revealed, were yet to be restored.

“We are not accepting the Maidan in its present state. You let us know by when you can clean it up and hand it over to us,” Col Mitra asked the party-government team.

A rattled Chatterjee claimed some of the holes yet to be covered had been dug up by the PWD for the Republic Day parade. But the army officers rubbished the claim, saying the holes for the January 26 function had long been filled up. “We have also observed that some spots on the greens are still littered,” an armyman told Chatterjee.

The CPM leader then assured the army team that the restoration would be complete by Thursday, following which Col Mitra agreed to inspect the Maidan again on Friday.

Asked what would happen if the CPM failed to meet the second deadline, an army officer said: “We expect the organisers to complete the clean-up and restoration in another couple of days.”

The high court is considering an army plea that organisers defaulting on their clean-up commitment would be permanently barred from the Maidan.

Chatterjee later alleged that the army, to prove its point, had pointed out some spots that were littered by Ganga Sagar pilgrims and other people before the rally. “But we will clean them all up,” he said.

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