KOLKATA, 2 JAN: Subhas Sarovar that was pitched by the state government for the status of National Lake has turned into a wasteland because of construction activities, indiscriminate felling of trees and unchecked disposal of waste into the lake by the Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation (KMRC) and state tourism department.
Last week two morning walkers with breathing problem suffered asthma attack because of the dust in Subhas Sarovar. The ring road around the lake has become anything but unwalkable. Several varieties of old trees are being felled on a regular basis. What is worse, fumes from melting of tar and burning plastics on the premises have poisoned the air.
After a PIL was filed in Calcutta High Court, the KMRC and the state tourism department were directed that any construction work on the premises without complying with necessary requirement such as obtaining the Environment Impact Assessment report shall not be permitted. Mr Biswajit Mukherjee, chief law officer of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB), said that the authorities have not yet submitted any EIA. “They have been given a time frame for two-three months which is not over yet.”
The WBPCB had issued an order on 6 October, 2010 to take effective steps for controlling pollution generated during the “developmental activities in the Subhas Sarovar area”. On repeated complaints, the board sent an inspection team to the spot and the team submitted its report on 26 November that states “severe violation on the part of the project proponents in respect of compliance with the directives of the department of environment was observed”. No measures for dust control in the project site was taken and there was no arrangement for the disposal of debris and garbage was being burnt by KMC workers by the side of the lake. After assessment of the water quality, it was found that dissolved oxygen level had gone down in the northern side of the lake where the KMRC is carrying out construction work. The fecal coliform counts exceeded the permissible limit grossly. The WBPCB on 30 November had ordered the state tourism department and the KMRC to clean the dumping site immediately.
However, even after two months, the debris remained heaped near the lake. The condition of the road has only deteriorated and in the name of controlling dust, heaps of stone chips and sand have been covered with plastic sheets use of which is prohibited on the premises.
The permit by the forest department for felling of trees expired on 21 October, 2010 yet the trees were being chopped. Moreover, officials at the site claimed ignorance about replanting the trees as directed by the forest department.