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State inaction over apex court ruling on Esplanade bus terminus surprises HC

Supreme Court had upheld a 2007 high court order asking the state for relocation to keep the area around Victoria free from pollution

Our Legal Reporter, Our Bureau | Published 30.03.22, 07:59 AM
Esplanade Bus terminus, Kolkata.

Esplanade Bus terminus, Kolkata.

Shutterstock

A division bench of Calcutta High Court, headed by Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava, expressed surprise on Tuesday after it was informed that an order passed by the Supreme Court in 2011 is yet to be carried out by the state government.

In that order, the apex court had upheld a 2007 order of Calcutta High Court asking the state to relocate the bus terminus from Esplanade to keep the area around Victoria Memorial free from pollution.

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The Calcutta High Court order had come in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by environment activist Subhas Datta.

On Tuesday, Datta alleged that the state had not carried out the order yet.

The division bench asked the petitioner to inform the state about his plea and fixed the matter for hearing on April 25.

The bench also directed the ministry of education (formerly known as ministry of human resource and development) to file an affidavit by April 25 about the stand it had taken in regard to the 2007 and 2011 orders.

After the Supreme Court upheld two orders of the Calcutta High Court on shifting of bus terminus from Esplanade in 2011, the transport department had spent close to Rs 10.5 crore in building a bus terminus at Santragachhi in Howrah in 2015.

A majority of the private bus operators stayed away from using the bus terminus saying Kona Expressway was not ready to take the additional volume of buses. They said the new terminus would be viable only after a flyover is built along the expressway.

Five years after this, in March 2020, the transport department identified a three-acre plot in west Kolkata’s Port area in Kidderpore as an alternative site.

The state government even paid Rs 10 crore to the authorities of the Kolkata Port Trust for “permissive possession” of the land. But private bus operators refused to move. Most of them said while the terminus at Santragachhi was about 10 kilometres from Esplanade, the one in Kidderpore was 12km away and was therefore not viable.

Last updated on 30.03.22, 06:12 PM
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