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In Photo: A file photo of Esplanade bus terminus. 

By Newsmen Bureau

Kolkata, 12 August: NOTED environment activist Subhash Dutta has criticised the Bengal government on its announcement to stop inter-state buses from entering Kolkata during daytime, saying that the move was nothing but a deflection of the core issue of relocating Esplanade bus terminus out of central Kolkata.

Bengal transport department on Tuesday announced that beginning 1 November, inter-state buses would not be allowed to enter or exit Kolkata from 8 am to 6 pm. Around 200-odd buses come to Kolkata every day from Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Environment activist Subhash Dutta.
Environment activist Subhash Dutta.
“This order does not make any sense, as in any case, almost all inter-state buses enter Kolkata early in the morning and exit after dusk.  I will shortly move an appeal before an appropriate judicial body challenging the Bengal government’s diversionary tactics,” Mr Dutta told Newsmen over the phone Wednesday morning.

Mr Dutta is the one who had in 2002, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Calcutta High Court pleading for steps to protect the Victoria Memorial from air pollution.

The High Court subsequently ordered several measures, including shifting out the Esplanade bus terminus at least 3 km away from Victoria. The order was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011.

Bengal government has since then missed several deadlines, to relocate the Esplanade bus terminus to Satragachi off Howrah, where a new bus terminus is near ready.

Apart from the announcement to “stop” movement of inter-state buses in Kolkata during daytime, the Bengal transport department on Tuesday also said that the state government would waive toll fee on Vidyasagar Setu for any long-distance buses terminating at Santragachi. The move is aimed at encouraging such buses to terminate at Stragachi instead of Esplanade or Babughat.

Mr Dutta is not content with this move either. “There cannot be any gradual or voluntary shifting of the Esplanade bus terminus. The state government must have to enforce the court order right away, else Maidan area which is the lung of Kolkata city and the hub our sporting activity, would never be freed of air pollution,” he said.