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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Bid to save Calcutta landmark
Victoria Memorial
Public litigation to save this monument in Calcutta

Leading environmentalists in India's eastern city of Calcutta have begun legal proceedings to get global bodies like Unesco to intervene to protect the city's historic Victoria Memorial.


This historical monument will be history if this state of affairs continue for another 25-30 years

Subhas Dutta Spokesman, Environmentalists group

A case has been filed against the Victoria Memorial board of trustees which is headed by the governor of West Bengal.

Calcutta's Democratic Citizens Forum - representing some of the city's enviromentalists - allege the authorities have done nothing to arrest the damage.

Indian Central Pollution Control Board assessments on the state of the elegant marble and sandstone structure have warned it is in danger of substantial damage.

Historical importance

The environmentalists are determined to preserve the monument, built in the memory of Queen Victoria, which they describe as second only to the Taj Mahal in beauty and historical importance.

They have demanded that the premises of the memorial should not be rented for public and private functions because of the risk of damage.

The premises were rented for the wedding ceremony of the son Indian business tycoon, Lakshmi Mittal, about two years ago.

The environmentalists also allege that the authorities have kept no proper record of the artifacts.

Subhas Dutta, the forum's main spokesman, also blames the authorities for setting up a huge office in the memorial's premises.

"This historical monument will be history if this state of affairs continue for another 25-30 years.

"It is going to be a dilapidated historical monument. The erosion could not be checked, there are several cracks already in the building because of the misuse."

Public concern

Mr Dutta also alleged that there was no proper record of the possessions of the Victoria Memorial.

Victoria Memorial in Calcutta
Victoria Memorial already has several cracks

It is a regular practice to loan out the artifacts for exhibitions - but it was not clear whether all the artifacts were coming back to the memorial.

"It is a matter of regret that there is no inventory of the possessions, of the objects of the Victoria Memorial. And there is no physical verification of the possessions.

"We do not know what we had and what we are having now", said Subhas Dutta.

Mr Dutta said they have sought court directives to create a green belt around the memorial and to stop vehicular traffic and new industries from coming up in the area it is located.

See also:

24 Apr 02 | Country profiles
15 Aug 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
24 Apr 02 | South Asia
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