Krishnagar, July 31: A Division bench of Calcutta High Court has asked the West Bengal government to file an affidavit clarifying whether the entire land adjacent in front of the Krishnagar Government College, where Kanyashree University being constructed, is a heritage site or only the college building with Doric architecture has earned that status.
The division bench comprising chief justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj issued the order on Thursday after hearing a writ petition filed by 14 alumnus of Krishnagar Government College seeking a direction to the state government for not to “proceed further with construction works” of Kanyashree University as well as an extended campus of Harichand-Guruchand University or any other construction on the land of Krishnagar Government College.
The petitioners have also sought an interim order suspending all ongoing construction activities being executed by the state government.
The petition was filed in November last year in the wake of a contention developed between the Bengal government and a group of elderly alumnus of the 175 years old college, who raised an objection over state government’s decision to set up the two new University campuses on the two playgrounds (Plot-1065 and 1055) of the 175 years old college alleging that it would jeopardize ambiance of the heritage site spanned over 36 acres of land.
They also alleged that the construction of the two university buildings would also rob the opportunity for much awaited expansion of the Krishnagar Government College required for launching the post graduate faculties.
During the hearing additional government pleader Tapan Kumar Mukherjee and advocate Somnath Mukherjee defending the state government argued that “only” the college building is a heritage property and thus no infringement has been caused to any heritage site.
Appearing for the petitioners’ senior advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya and Siddhartha Sankar Mandal claimed that the state government’s submission is ‘misleading’ since the entire 36 acres land of the college is a heritage site.
Seeking a clear status of the land and the college building, the Division bench eventually directed the state government to file an ‘affidavit in opposition’ by August 31. The court also directed the petitioners to file their reply on the affidavit by September 17.
Kanyashree University, Bengal’s second exclusive university for women, announced by the chief minister during
August 2018, which has become functional from November 3, 2019. The Bengal government has arranged classroom lessons for the students at the Krishnagar Women’s College campus until the University’s own building is constructed on the College playgrounds.
“We have no objection over setting up the two universities in the town. We just appealed to the government to shift the campus to any alternative location from Krishnagar Government College site since the entire land on the Khatian No. 10771 was declared as heritage site by the West Bengal Heritage Commission on July 3, 2020. But, unfortunately the state government ignored our plea”, said Khagen Dutta, one of the petitioners and secretary of Krishnagar Government College Alumni Association.
“We welcome the High Court’s order as has it sought a clear statement from the state government which tried to mislead the court by submitting wrong information about the heritage status of the College site”, Dutta, who is a retired SBI employee added.
Pictures by Pranab Debnath