The Supreme Court's order on Thursday setting aside the West Bengal government's allotment of land to former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly for a school comes after years of protests, hunger strike and legal battle over the decision.
It all began in 2006, when the then Left Front government issued an advertisement that it wanted to set aside around 50 ‘cottah' (a little less than an acre) of land in the posh satellite township of Salt Lake for the purposes of setting up a school.
"We had then said that sports or cultural personalities would be preferred for the plot in the BF block of Salt Lake. Ganguly was one of the applicants. A committee led by the chief secretary then went through the applications and selected him," Ashok Bhattacharya, then minister of urban development, told IANS.
However, a Delhi-based educational council said its rules stipulated at least one acre has to be earmarked for an affiliated school.
Ganguly then made a fresh application and he was asked to surrender the lease for the BF block plot.
"And then in 2008, he was given the around-63 cottah [a little more than one acre] plot at CA block of Salt Lake. He also had to pay an excess amount for the bigger plot,' Bhattacharya said.
The government did not put out any advertisement before granting the second plot to the cricketer, who formed a Ganguly Education and Welfare Society to start work on the Wissen International School.
However, some locals objected to the procedure adopted and protests began. There were street corner meetings, conventions and even hunger strikes.
"The land was earlier earmarked for a college. There were two schools on two sides of the plot. While one of them had 1,400 students on its rolls, the other had 1,100. So there was no need for any other school in the area," said eminent painter Subhaprasanna, who was among the protesters then.
In 2009, an NGO Humanity, CA Block Citizens' Association and two other organisations filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Calcutta High Court against the then Left Front government's procedure for allotment of the plot to Ganguly.
The petition was dismissed both by a single judge and the division bench of the high court.
From / Gulf News