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Green activist campaigns for memorial

Subhas Dutta urges UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to protect the Victoria memorial.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 18:05 IST

Concerned over the environmental and structural degradation of the city's landmark Victoria Memorial, noted environmentalist Subhas Datta has sought the help of British Prime Minister Tony Blair to protect the monument built by the colonial rulers in 1921.

In a letter to Tony Blair written Jan 28, Datta, known for filing numerous public interest litigations (PILs) to protect the greens of Kolkata and neighbouring Howrah, said rain water seepage inside the monument and the static state of the bronze statue of the angel atop of the main dome were causing serious damage to the city's landmark.

He wrote: "Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH), which is from the architectural viewpoint second to only Taj Mahal, one of wonders of the world, was conceived by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of British India, on expiry of Queen Victoria in 1901. Its foundation stone was laid by King George V, the then Prince of Wales, on January 4,1906, and it was formally opened to the public in 1921."

"On being concerned about the environmental and structural degradation of the said heritage monument I had moved a petition in 2002 before the Public Interest Litigation Bench of the High Court at Calcutta.

"Through the intervention of the Hon'ble Court certain improvements have taken place but two major aspects have been surfaced during the proceedings of the matter, i.e. rain water leaking inside the monument and the static bronze statue of the angel (weighing 3.5 MT) on the top of the main dome," he wrote.

"The static position of the angel is said to be causing serious damage to the structure of the monument," the letter said.

"With the available infrastructure and expertise it is extremely difficult for us to address the problem and make the angel rotate.

"I, therefore, earnestly request you to kindly explore the possibilities of extending the necessary expertise to overcome the problem, which will not simply bring smile to millions but the same will strengthen the tie of friendship between India and U.K," Datta wrote.

The environmentalist also referred to the newspaper reports about the degradation of the monument.

"I have emailed the letter and also sent it by courier. I would inform the High Court about the letter," Datta told IANS Thursday.

"The VMH authorities are not serious enough about the problem," he said.

A retired engineer of Jessop Company had taken up the job of repairing the angle but his report in the court said there was no short cut to the problem of making the angel rotate.