Visva Bharti Writes To President Over Road At Santiniketan Campus


Visva-Bharati authorities on Sunday wrote to President Droupadi Murmu, seeking her intervention for returning of a road lined by heritage buildings on the central university’s campus from the West Bengal government.

In a letter to the President, Visva-Bharati Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty sought her support for the return of the road on its campus in Santiniketan which was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site last month.

According to the Archeological Survey of India, if vehicles carrying heavy materials are allowed to ply, the roadside buildings, which are more than one hundred years old, will be damaged by the vibration of the movement of these vehicles, Chakrabarty claimed.

The three-km road, connecting Post Office More with Santiniketan, was taken over by the Public Works Department of the state government from the university in 2020 โ€œto facilitate better connectivityโ€.

The varsity has been demanding the return of the road to protect the heritage structures lined along it.

The letter was written to the President, who is also the Visitor of the central university, days after Visva Bharati authorities urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to consider its request for the return of the road to the institution.

“We have made earnest requests to our chief minister to return the road to Visva Bharati by sending letters to her on September 25 and 30, 2023, although there is no reply,” Chakrabarty claimed.

With the take-over of the road passing through the Asram by the PWD department, it has “become a source of nuisance”, he said.

E-rickshaws parked on both sides of the road make the movement of tourists very difficult, and vendors set up their temporary shops on the road which is adjacent to the Asram, the VC claimed.

“The place thus becomes noisy, crowded, unmanageable on most of the days when our museums are kept open for the tourists and the crisscrossing of vehicles (tractors etc.) on this road was a source of alarm since not only does it harm the buildings in Asram because of the resultant vibration harming the structures inside Asram but also causes panic to the tourists because some of the drivers are not sensitive to rules and regulations of road safety,” Chakrabarty said in the letter.

Many earn their livelihood by driving e-rickshaws and also selling souvenirs to the tourists, the VC said, adding that there are rooms just before the beginning of the Asram area and e-rickshaw drivers and the local sellers used to operate from that location when the road was kept under Visva-Bharati’s supervision.

“Visva-Bharati shall take ample care in sustaining the system that worked well so long as this road was managed by its staff. The purpose is to carry on with everybody because the Heritage declaration shall bring more tourists to the campus and it is our prime duty to protect these old buildings and Asram’s pristine environment,” the VC said.

He also urged the President to “kindly intervene to support” the varsity’s endeavour to take back the road, which will enable it to “devise plans in consultation with conservationists for its perfect maintenance”.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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