Monday, July 21, 2008
Zoo story: Goodbye blue sky
Photo: Dr. Debanik
I have written earlier about the criminal theft and privatisation of public space in Calcutta by the govt of West Bengal, acting at the behest of the CPI(M) party (see e.g.here, here and here).
Perhaps the mother of all such scams is the one involving Calcutta zoo. The conspiracy runs from the central govt to the state govt. Using the pretext of the need for more space and better facilities for the zoo, the zoo is to be shifted from its present location in Alipore to the fringes of the city. And the present premises would then be handed over to a private company to convert into a private development. Needless to add, a nice consideration must have been paid for the favour.
The location in Alipore is very, very valuable real estate. Thanks to the secret bilateral deal with the private company, on the pretext of giving the city a new and better zoo, prime real estate is to be handed over to them on a platter.
Photo: Cathryn Game
The zoo is one of the very few open and recreational spaces in the city accessible to the public at a nominal entrance fee. On Christmas day or on New Year day, tens of thousands of people, mostly humble folk, would be found queueing up to spend a few hours amidst green surroundings. It is one of the few places where families with children can spend a day or have a picnic. The zoo also provides much-needed lungs to a city beleagured by politically sponsored air pollution. To take this out of the public domain, hand it over to a private company and have it converted into a private enclave for the wealthy and powerful - is simply diabolical.
The private company is of course one that is adored by the ruling CPI(M). The same company on whose behalf the state govt appropriated fertile farm land, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of sharecroppers and larm labourers.
Will the people of Calcutta stand up and raise their voice against this criminal conspiracy by their rulers?