At a time when there is growing concern about protecting the Victoria Memorial Hall from environmental degradation, 'The Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act, 1905', an Act that was introduced by the British to protect the monument has completed a century. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) and Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH), Kolkata arranged for a ceremonious meeting to mark the 'Centennial of the Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act, 1905'. The programme was held at Prince Hall, Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata on May 5, 2005. Justice V.S. Sirpurkar, the Hon’ble Chief Justice, Calcutta High Court graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. The Hon'ble Minister-in-charge, Deptts. of Information Technology & Environment, Shri Manabendra Mukherjee also presided over the function.
This Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act, which was framed in 1905 "for the abatement of nuisances, arising from the smoke of furnaces or fire-places in the towns and suburbs of Kolkata and in Howrah and other areas of Bengal", was the first law for protecting nature in India. In the year 1905, the whole of Bengal was caught up with the tide of the widespread mass movement that followed the partition of Bengal. Amidst the turmoil, conspicuous for the moment, was born in Calcutta, the Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act, its main purpose being to preserve the dazzling whiteness of the fine huge white-marble structure of Victoria Memorial Hall.
Soon after being passed, the Act was made official. The British were serious about its implementation. An independent 'Smoke Nuisances Commission' was set up under the commissioner of the Presidency Range. Its functioning was supervised by the Chief Inspector of Smoke Nuisances. The commission was, however, later merged with the West Bengal Pollution Control Board. Eventually, the issue of preserving the environment of Victoria Memorial Hall became a matter of great concern for the people of Kolkata and various studies were made as well as a Committee was constituted for the upkeep of the environment of VMH. The celebration of the century-old Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act was therefore significant, as being one of the first laws for protecting nature in India, at the landmark Victoria Memorial, for the preservation of which the law was made.