Kolkata: Kolkata residents have joined hands to fight the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and try to save the second-largest patch of greenery in the city known as Park circus maidan, which is being sliced off to ensure the smooth movement of traffic on the newly built flyover that connects the western suburb to that of the eastern part of the city.
Citizens have taken to social media to raise awareness and also have filed a public interest litigation (PIL) at Calcutta High court for this purpose. The hearing is expected to be held on Friday. “We will plead to the honourable court to help us save the second-largest patch of greenery in Kolkata. The KMC has taken a unilateral decision and has axed several hundred-year-old trees,” said Tasmin Partapuri, the main petitioner against the civic body.
However, civic body officials say they had little choice other than to widen the roads around the park to ensure smooth flow of traffic. “We had to ensure smooth flow of traffic in the seven-point crossing otherwise whole of south Kolkata was getting affected. The only way to do so was to widen the road,” said KMC Mayor-in-council Ratan De told Gulf News.
In an internal order, the KMC said an average of 10-15 feet of Park Circus Maidan would have been lopped off to widen neighbouring streets. “It means that the city will lose 10,000 to 15,000sqft of greenery due to bad urban planning,” said Kaushik Roy, a resident and a lawyer by profession.
The problem started since the inauguration of the flyover last year as long traffic snarls were witnessed and Kolkata police was forced to stop traffic on one plank of the flyover. Even the new ramp that was constructed did not help much, and the civic body has taken a wrong route in trying to solve the problem, said Probal De, an urban planner.
“The problem is that when we plan such infrastructures, it is done based on today’s data, while at the actual time of completion, the requirement is much bigger making the purpose of constructing the infrastructure futile,” De added.
Residents however lament that at least 50 old trees have already been axed. “The work had started in complete secrecy and even before we could fathom the real plans, many trees have fallen and it might look too late,” said Partapuri.
While KMC promises to plant double the number of trees that have been felled in a short time, citizens are not convinced as they believe that the damage cannot be undone by compensatory plantation. “This is the only place where we can walk in peace. Also this is the only playground for the underprivileged children. Cars will continue to increase and will KMC continue to shorten the park?” asked Pritha Sengupta, of the women’s morning walk club.