KOLKATA, 28 AUG: In Bidhannagar municipality chairperson Mrs Krishna Chakraborty’s ward, about 85 residents are up in arms against organising Durga Puja in the centre of the park, but their plea has been ignored as the Puja organisers allegedly have close ties with the municipality and the police.
The residents say that organising the Puja in BJ Block park in ward no 3 would mean that for almost four months neither the youths of the area would be able to play in the park nor elderly citizens be able to use it for morning walk and exercise.
Also, because of the pandal and various stalls that are rented out during the Pujas, the condition of the park deteriorates and the greenery is affected. Since a large number of outsiders visit the grounds during the Pujas, the residents feel excluded and are not able to participate in Puja rituals.
They feel there is no point organising the Puja on the grounds when they already have a community centre. What is worse, they have been protesting against the move since 2009 but it has not stopped.
Mr Devaprasad Banerjee, a resident of BJ Block and one of the complainants, said that since Mrs Chakraborty is also the councillor of our ward, they had given her a petition signed by 85 residents and members of the block committee. She called the president of the Puja committee, Mr Arup Pal, for a meeting but no steps have been taken.
“We met the SDO, Mr Maloy Mukhopadhyay, but he told us that the matter is with Mrs Krishna Chakraborty and since she is close to chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee, he can’t afford to offend the chairperson,” said Mr Banerjee.
The officer-in-charge of Bidhannagar East police station, Mr Shekhar Roy, and Mr Anupam Dutta, member, chairman-in-council for parks, said the matter has been resolved on a consensus.
While the police said that the Puja organisers have permission from the municipality, Mr Dutta said that Mrs Chakraborty has given a no-objection certificate to the organisers. Interestingly, Mr Arup Pal, the president of the organising committee, said he has no written permission as of now. The permission for organising the Puja would be issued from September. Mrs Chakraborty, however, was not available for comment. Several block committee members said that they are not able to use the community hall for which the block committee members had chipped in with funds as it is rented out to “outsiders”.
Mr Sarkar, an elderly resident of the block, said their request is not being heeded to as Mrs Chakraborty has a good relation with Mr Arup Pal. Ironically, Mrs Chakraborty had defeated Mr Pal in the last civic election by 400 votes.
SIR, ~ This is with reference to the report, “Puja organisers have their way with civic blessings” (29 August). Residents of BJ block in Salt Lake have objected to the construction of a Durga Puja pandal inside the playground of BJ park. The response, as expressed by Mr Anupam Dutta , Chairman-in Council for Parks, to the effect that “the matter has been resolved by consensus “ is not correct. The matter is yet to be resolved.
We met the councillor of Ward No. 3 on 7 August. She assured us that she would meet the residents as well as the puja organizers, including Mr Arup Pal, to resolve the matter. That meeting has not been held till date.
The puja organizers are constructing the pandal inside the playground unilaterally, against the wishes of BJ block residents, and without any written permission from the competent authority. And this has been confirmed by Mr Pal, as reported in your paper.
Yours, etc., Jayasree Sarkar, AK Sarkar, DP Banerjee, PC Sarkar (residents of BJ Block, Salt Lake), Kolkata, 30 August.