Subhas Dutta: One Man Army in Kolkata

Subhas Dutta

Subhas Dutta

Subhas Dutta has spent the last three decades perfecting the dying art of active citizenship.

He is the son of refugees from Bangladesh and calls the grand old city of Kolkata his home. One could mistake this unassuming Chartered Accountant for a harmless ‘Aam Admi’ who’s just trying to live his life and ‘get by’. But underneath those thick rimmed glasses, are a pair of ever watchful, resolute eyes. Keenly observing the changing face of the city he lives in.

For thirty years Subhas Dutta has fought to preserve and protect what’s left of Kolkata’s fading environment. In the early nineties, the volume of PILs being filed by Dutta eventually led to a special Green Bench being established in the city’s high court. It was also the first dedicated bench of its kind in India.

Subhas Dutta has filed more court cases on environment and heritage protection issues than anybody else in India. His day job has certainly lent to his meticulous approach to his activism.

“I do all the research my self, I go to every location personally on a fact finding mission, I take pictures, I talk to all the stake holders and then decide what’s in the best interest of the people and the environment before filing each PIL”, he shares. Currently, he has 10 cases in the Kolkata high court.

His dogged determination makes him a formidable foe and favourite punching bag for all those inconvenienced by his stand. Wielding great political and financial resources, they have tried to malign his reputation by insinuating his involvement in a molestation and an attempt to murder case. But the man remains undeterred.

“I’m not bothered by this slander. It’s no surprise that they want to discredit me, it must mean that I’m doing something worthwhile”, he quips.

Each of Dutta’s successes is actually a success for the city of Kolkata. He has ensured the phasing out of 1.2 million old and polluting vehicles from the city’s roads- which caused 2/3 of the city’s air pollution. The annual book fair that used to trample and pollute the main Maidan has now been shifted to a another venue. “The Maidan is Kolkata’s lungs and comprises 60% of city’s green cover. It was littered with filth and uncared for, parts of it were used as parking space and rubbish was being burnt daily”, Dutta explains. His campaign to protect Rabindra Sarobar saw thousands of citizens protesting and writing letters seeking funds and a mandate for its restoration. Dutta’s work also ensured that there shall be no private functions in the Shibpur botanical gardens that leave behind a trail of empty bottles and paper plates.

Dutta laments the poor prioritization of environmental issues by our countries political parties. “No surprises here, since the government is the biggest violator of our country’s natural resources; either to pursue its own short sighted goals or by allowing environmental degradation by the private sector”.

In response to this predicament, Dutta has launched India’s first Green Political Party. He was invited to Brussels and London to learn how a small but dedicated group of Green Party members are safe guarding their country’s environment and the interest of the citizens in the long run.

“Creating a green political party is the best way to tackle the situation nationally. But no one wants to fund or align with a party that might be a stumbling block to their capitalist agendas.” Dutta struggles to keep the green party afloat, even as the citizens of West Bengal pledge their allegiance to him. Internet forums are gushing with support for his work.

The West Bengal Government gives hundreds of crores in kerosene subsidy for the rural poor. Yet, no significant investment is made in solar power. Dutta is also worried about the construction of a Nuclear power plant in an earthquake prone area. “There is a lesson to learn from Japan’s recent disaster. Even in the past we have seen poor disaster management by government authorities with the common man bearing the brunt, how can I support a nuclear power plant given these circumstances”.

Dutta also feels that the nation is failing it’s young with it’s lop sided education. “Education of life, community and service” according to him are topics being taught neither in a classroom or at home. “A child today is taught only to be a competitive, self indulgent professional and the few who do go off the beaten path to study environment (care and management), for example, are unable to find jobs”. Dutta suggests that taking care of the environment needs to become a mandatory part of Corporate Social Responsibility in India.

West Bengal, like the rest of India; is plagued with public apathy and a contagious sense of impotence among citizens, to change the situation. Subhas Dutta is living his life as an example and a cure, powering through every obstacle, equipped only with his moral discernment and a vision for a better India.

Tithiya Sharma is a former journalist turned backpacking blogger who’s traveling the world looking for adventure and inspiration. She’s using social media for social good as she finds and meets a hundred everyday heroes and discovers a world worth saving. Check out her quest for inspiration: The 100 Heroes Project.

Read all articles by Tithiya Sharma here.

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  • Dardevilonfire

    Yaa ya… a man makes money by filing cases… he is same as other corrupt bastards… just exploiting the other corrupted people… bloody social parasite

  • debdip sinha roy

    Sir my name is debdip sinha roy..i have a discussion about some environmental problem in our area. after your suggestion i will start my movement..my number is 905148044

  • Soma dey

    Sir, I, Mrs soma dey, resident of sukantanagar, salt lake, am a mother of a 2yrs child. Gamon India Ltd. ready to start a project of mixing plant. Please save our child from this pollution. This is not only my request to you, our, means all mother of this area, request to save us from this noise pollution & also dust of stones & sand.

  • Rony

    Illegal filling of wetlands / waterbodies & destroying of agricultural lands by land owners & land mafias in Senpara , Benaras Road , Howrah . Land description : Khatian No – 242 , 1409 , 1542 . Dag No – 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 20 . Mouza – Belgachia Kismat , J.L. No – 109 . P.s. – Lilluah . District – Howrah . Block – Bally . Land Area – 0.465 decimals . Under – Howrah Municipal Corporation . Ward No -8 . Land Mark – X Road , Senpara , Belgachia , P.o. – Netajigarh , P.s. – Lilluah , Howrah – 711108 . Near – Left hand side of Jagannath Ferro Casting . We have already informed the matter before 1 ) Dist . Magistrate , Howrah Sadar . 2 ) Officer – In – Charge Lilluah P.s. , Lilluah . 3 ) B.L.&L.R.O. , Bally – Jagacha . 4 ) Commissionerate Howrah City Police . 5 ) A.D.M.&D.L.L.R. , Howrah Sadar . 6 ) Honourable MLA , Shibpur Kendra . 7 ) Minister – In – Charge , Land & Land Reforms Department , Govt. Of West Bengal , Writers Building . 8 ) Minister – In – Charge , Environment Department , Govt.of West Bengal , Writers Building . 9 ) Additional Chief Secretory , Fishery Department , Govt. of West Bengal . 10 ) Directorate of Land Records and Survey & Joint L.R.C. Alipore .11 ) Honourable Chief Minister West Bengal . But the filling is continued till date . And the Local P.s. Lilluah has no action .

  • http://www.facebook.com/monotosh.nandy.3 Monotosh Nandy

    Now every wetlands / waterbodies are going to fill in Benaras Road , Howrah . ( INDIA ) If any body has the knowledge against how to stop the filling , in which Govt. office we can give letter . Please share with me . In nandymonotosh@gmail.com

  • GokulBurman

    West Bengal government is planning to use unused land, belonging to Kolkata tram depots and bus depots amounting to about 700 acres in the city of Kolkata. At present kolkata is suffering from breathing troubles as its breathing space had drastically reduced. Therefore, we should see that no concrete jungle comes up in already conjested and suffocating kolkata. Mr Dutta should specially see that CM Mamata Banerjee does not eye it for commercial use, only to augment revenue for spending it on some other unnecessary things like making kolkata another London and Siliguri Switzerland. Kolkata needs more breathing space. Mr Dutta should work for it.

  • Kanchan Karmakar

    A concrete jungle project is going to be made at Alipur Jail area for destroying the Green

  • sav

    tram is 100% pollution free! various cities of world welcomes modify tram! but kolkata always neglect tram! from many years bengal govt can’t take new project to extend tram route! tram is more cost-effective than metro and monorail! there is varios place in kolkata which need good transport but there have no sufficient land for metro or monorail! if govt want they can modify tram system and bring it to those area! france, australlia propose many time to bengal govt for develop tram but govt can’t take interest!