Environment activist Subhas Dutta on Friday moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against a prominent Durga Puja committee in south Kolkata for carving a Durga idol out of a mahogany log. State Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim is the president of the committee organising the Puja — Chetla Agrani Club.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dutta said NGT had given him permission to file a petition against the puja committee to find out whether the mahogany log was procured legally.
“Today, I saw the picture of the idol in a newspaper. The caption said that the Durga idol has been carved out of a 13-foot-long mahogany log. We have no objection if an idol is carved out of a wooden log. But we want to know how did the puja organisers procure a mahogany log? Mahogany logs are rare and expensive,” he added. “We want to know whether it has been procured legally. I moved the NGT today… it has asked me to file a petition on Monday,” said Dutta.
He claimed that such mahogany logs can be sourced in three ways.
“Firstly, it can be imported from countries like Malaysia and Myanmar. Secondly, it can be procured from the forest. To do so, one has to follow the Forest (Conservation) Act-1980 with Amendments Made in 1988. One has to take permission to cut the tree and then it gets auctioned. Following the auction, one has to get a transit pass. According to Supreme Court, you cannot move the log without a transit pass. Thirdly, one can get it from outside the forest area, which means illegally. We are apprehensive that the log used has been procured illegally,” he said, adding that a a 13-foot-long mahogany log will cost around Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh.
When contacted, secretary of Chetla Agrani Club, Sandip Mukherjee, said they have all documents to prove that the log has been procured legally.
“We have not received a notice regarding the petition. I got to know about this through your newspaper. He can appeal to the NGT, as it is his prerogative. If NGT inquires, we have all necessary documents to prove that the log was not procured illegally,” he added. Despite repeated attempts, Hakim could not be contacted for comments.