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Last Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Order to save Calcutta monument
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Victoria Memorial, Calcutta
The memorial is second in beauty only to Taj Mahal
The Calcutta High Court has ordered the city authorities to adopt a number of measures to protect the city's historic Victoria Memorial from pollution.

The court order bans fairs and public gatherings near the monument and removal of traffic signals and car parking spaces.

The city's main bus terminal has been given six months to relocate.

Made in the early 20th-century, the monument is a memorial to the British monarch, Queen Victoria.

It is one of Calcutta's most famous monuments.

Welcomed

The court order came in response to a petition filed by environmentalist Subhas Dutta who said pollution was ruining the monument.

Giving their ruling, Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and RS Bandiopadhyay said no hotel or restaurant around the memorial will be allowed to cook with coal or any other fuel that emits smoke and fumes.

The court said they have to use cleaner fuel such as cooking gas.

Victoria Memorial, Calcutta
The monument was built by British Viceroy Lord Curzon

The city's main bus terminus at Esplanade will have to be moved somewhere else, at least three kilometres away from the monument, the judges said.

Mr Dutta has welcomed the court order and called upon the West Bengal state government and the Calcutta city municipal authorities to implement the order without any delay.

"I have reasons to believe the government may try to drag its feet. They should not do that," Mr Dutta said. "This historical monument will be history if this state of affairs continues for another 25-30 years.

"The pollution has to be checked, also the erosion, as there are already several cracks in the building."

The environmentalist filed a case in the High Court after a report by India's Central Pollution Control Board said the elegant marble and sandstone structure was in danger of substantial damage.

Mr Dutta demanded that the monument should not be rented out for public and private functions because of risk of damage.

The grounds of the memorial were rented out for the wedding ceremony of the son of business tycoon Lakshmi Mittal a few years ago, leading to a public outcry.

The monument was built by British Viceroy Lord Curzon in the memory of Queen Victoria. It is said to be second only to the Taj Mahal in beauty and historical importance.


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