A Division Bench of Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice R N Banerjee passed the order in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by environment activist Subhas Dutta in June 2002, seeking the court’s intervention in saving the Victoria Memorial from the effects of pollution caused by heavy auto-emission in the area.
The decision has been taken keeping in mind that the shifting of the terminus from the heart of the city would reduce pollution considerably. The recommendation has been made by the expert committee, which had been formed by a High Court order. Dutta said that the day’s judgment is similar to the one made by the Supreme Court to save the Taj Mahal from pollution.
The order follows a series of hearings, during which the court had reconsidered issues regarding people walking in the Memorial complex during morning hours. The court, however, said the people who go there for morning walk will not be denied entry but will not be permitted inside the premises either with water bottles and plastic bags, which causes pollution.
The Bench also imposed a ban on the plying of heavy vehicles, except vehicles of public transport, in the roads around the Victoria Memorial.
The Kolkata Police was also directed to immediately synchronise the traffic signalling system so buses and other vehicles don’t halt in the area around the Victoria Memorial. The Bench had also furnished a map where the no-parking zones, signaling synchronisation points were clearly demarcated. The court ordered the parking ban to be implemented in 24 hours. However, it said that in cases of visits of foreign delegations and other special occasions, the order can be relaxed.
The hotels and eateries near the Memorial too came under the scanner.
The Kolkata Police was asked to ensure that no eatery in the area uses open ovens, rather use clean fuels like the LPG.