Evicted, slum-dwellers cry foul


A KMDA eviction drive of slum-dwellers at Nonadanga on the eastern fringes of the city has left over 250 families homeless.

The drive began at 10.30 am. With three earth movers and a huge police force, officials said the operation was carried out “quite smoothly”. The Rapid Action Force was kept on standby.

The Trinamool Congress government had said it would not evict any slum-dweller without a rehabilitation programme. In this case, authorities said that only the new encroachers had been removed and the old ones remained.

“The government had said that while it had a compassionate outlook for slum-dwellers, any encroachment after May 2011 would not be allowed. In the last 2-3 months, these 250-odd families had been settled on around 4 acres of the 15-acre plot of the KMDA. We had given them several notices in the last 10-15 days to vacate this place but no one paid heed to it. Today, the drive was carried out,” said Sushanta Chattopadhyay, official spokesperson of KMDA.

Urban development minister Firhad Hakim said he had made a recce of the place and only the new structures had been razed. He also alleged that among the encroachers, there were several anti-social elements.

“There was a small demonstration from the Matingini Hazra Bahini against it. Among the dwellers, many had come from Garbeta and Midnapore (E) and wanted to create a Naxalite den here,” he said. He added that the land was to be utilised for dwelling units to be built under the Basic Service for the Urban Poor project.

Those rendered homeless, however had a different story. “We have been living here for about five years and one fine morning we were asked to evict the place. We had put in several petitions but to no avail,” said Ujjal Saha, a slum-dweller.

He said the officials didn’t even give enough time to get the tiles off the sheds, which could be reused. “They did not spare a thought for the 700-plus people who have been left without a roof,” he said, alleging that the shanties were burnt after they were brought down. “It has been done to ensure that we do not reuse the bamboo and thatch sheets to relocate elsewhere,” he said.

Hakim, however, brushed aside the allegation and said they had done it themselves.

Many said they had been cheated by the new government. “After we wrote to Firhad Hakim, he met us and assured us that we would not be removed. He did not keep his word,” said Gautam Das, another shanty-dweller.

Many have decided to spend the night in the open field and sleep inside the huge pipes lying in the vicinity. “I finished preparing lunch when these people bulldozed our homes in front of our eyes,” said Bachhu Das. His wife Sonamoni Das was busy looking for a ‘liveable’ pipe to spend the night with their two children.




Evicted, slum-dwellers cry foul - Indian Express
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  • West Bengal real estate sector on a swift growth phase

    KOLKATA: Even as industrialists worry over the slow pace of reforms hitting industrial resurgence in West Bengal, one business is growing by leaps and bounds in the state - real estate.

    Experts say realty today is one the fastest growing sectors in Bengal's otherwise gloomy economy.

    One example is Best Western, the world's largest hotel chain, which is upbeat about the state's real estate outlook.

    "We expect the hotel business to grow by 10-15 per cent pan-India this year and eastern India is expected to post a faster growth," Sudhir Sinha, India president and chief operating officer of Best Western, said on the phone from Bangalore.

    He said there was a demand-supply gap in the hotel business in eastern India and expected the region to enjoy a good growth rate in the next five years.

    "The realty sector in Bengal is expected to grow at a handsome rate of 15-20 per cent in 2012," he said.

    Best Western too plans to open a 150-room hotel near the airport by March next year. It is also looking for properties in Bengal's smaller cities - Siliguri, Darjeeling and Durgapur.

    "We are looking for more properties in Kolkata. We are looking for hotel owners for partnerships," Sinha said.

    The company already owns a 80-room property in Vedic Village on Kolkata's outskirts.

    The Bagaria Group of Kolkata, which is into steel, tea and real estate, sees a boom in demand for luxury housing.

    The group recently bought a two-acre plot from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation paying Rs. 57.5 crore (around $10.4 million) per acre - one of the highest amounts paid for a plot in the city.

    Sheo Shankar Bagaria, the group's head, said they would set up a residential property on the land, spending Rs. 100 crore (around $18 million).

    Also, out of the Rs. 500 crore (around $90 million) the company plans to invest this year across India, Rs. 300 crore (around $54.4 million) would only be spent in Bengal.

    Bagaria said 60 per cent of the business in real estate in India was happening in housing property.

    "About 40 per cent of the total business is in commercial properties, whose demand is low due to the slow industrial growth. And Bengal's picture is the same compared with the rest of the country," he said.

    "The real estate sector is definitely contributing to Bengal's economy," said Debmallya Banerjee, a co-chairman of industry body Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry).

    He said demand for housing and commercial property was growing due to a steep rise in people's spending capacity and the entry of multinational companies, especially information technology firms.

    Banerjee, who heads Assocham's eastern and northeastern council, said there was doubt and fear among investors in the manufacturing sector since many companies had became sick or had closed down due reasons, including powerful trade unions.

    This might contribute to the growth of the less risky real estate business, which gives high returns, he said.

    "The fear psychosis regarding the setting up a manufacturing plant in Bengal may be contributing to the real estate story along with other reasons," he said.

    He expects the booming housing business to post a very high growth in the days ahead compared to commercial property such as hotel and resorts.

    "Commercial property is a need-based product," he said.



    West Bengal real estate sector on a swift growth phase - The Economic Times
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  • I agree to this report quite a bit... I look at the analysis from a macro level though and here, it is -

    We should see a developement from both angles - Positive side ofcourse, but, at the same time, I see it from another angle also - slightly on the negative side. I believe, a positive growth story should always equally wary about negative sides, to be better able to face the future and control waywardness...

    According to a recent report, when India GDP growth is only 6-6.5% expected, Bihar tops the list of states with 13-14 %. Although, it is commendable on the positive side, but from negative side, there is nothing to go overboard. Do a simple maths -

    x= 10/-, 14% growth in a year will give x = x+0.14x=1.14x = 11.4.

    However, y= 1000, 6% growth in a year will give y = y+0.6y = 1.06y = 1060.

    Bottomline, for a massive organization, to keep same growth trajectory moving forward, is difficult, but for a small organization, to achieve a double growth is very simple. Looking at % wise will always not give correct view point as there are other KPIs as well.

    Same has been the case of Kolkata realty. After falling behind for decades, things have started picking up. Even a small change in absolute terms equals a big % change as the base was too small to start with...

    So, as a die-hard Kolkatan and Indian, I feel proud that there are others who feel that new money should go into Kolkata realty, at the same time, I feel, we have a long way to go before we catch others... I am hopeful of the new x/y gen as they have a much broader perspective; I have seen one generation where we got too much sucked into politics ONLY. There were no men left out who would DO something. New genx has understood it, crticized it and had courage to take kolkata (read also WB and in turn eastern region to some extent as well !!) to a level in just a decade or so where we couldn't reach even after 5/6 decades.

    Now, it also means, if the trend continues, and money continues to pour in, within next 2 decades, there will be a completely new face of kolkata and its positive effects on the entire eastern region.. With so many new infrastructural developments in pipeline until 2015-20, this will provide base framework for new developement platform.

    As India will lead the world in 2030-2050, I strongly believe, Kolkata and eastern region, will be a strong contributor to India's growth story. Realty is just one aspect; Infra growth will be key and there are things on positive side that tell us that we are surging ahead.. Also, growth of Bihar under Nitish will have a competitive effect on Mamta and Naveen for Odisha. This mineral/coal/human resource rich trio can claim a much bigger stake in India's growth story post 2030.... Jai Hind...
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  • Bhai, your post is more emotional than fact based. Anyway, media report is also fact less propaganda.

    You are correct that we are talking about a very small base and hence % looks impressive. In fact the report does not talk about any significant projects in Kolkata. Vedic village is an old story, The 2 acre plot is insignificant and the hotel (I guess they r talking abt Westin hotel) is under construction for last few years.

    If you look back, how many residential projects (with 100+ apartment) launched and delivered in last few years? Most of the big RE projects in Kolkata are hanging for many and many years. Yes, RE delay is normal but Kolkata is always abnormally delayed.... be it Rajarhat projects or Batanagar projects.

    Ignoring all those hypes, fact is, there are just handful of RE projects in Kolkata compared to other cities. There is no supply and the market is driven by mostly end users and hence there is no boom or burst in Kolkata RE, it is gradual appreciation inline with rest of India. Swift Growth is stretching fact too much.
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  • Industrial zones to turn green soon

    KOLKATA: The industrial belts of Haldia, Asansol and Durgapur, identified as critically-polluted zones, may soon turn green, thanks to the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB). Not only has the board decided to carry out tree plantation programmes in these areas, but they have also issued a 16-point guideline that all sponge iron units in the state must comply with.

    "We are stressing on a green economy," said environment minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar.

    As part of the 16-point guideline, the units have been asked to use only surface water and not groundwater. Adopting rainwater harvesting and controlling stack pollution with the help of advanced machinery and equipment have also been issued as directives.

    "We have asked the units to submit a compliance report to us within a month," said WBPCB chairman Binoy Kanti Dutta.

    In order to increase greenery and ensure an eco-friendly environment, the board has also advised several industries to take up plantation programmes. Thousands of trees have already been planted in and around Asansol subdivision. "The aim is to carry out tree plantation programmes in all important industrial areas like Asansol, Haldia and Durgapur," Dutta said.

    The authorities have set up an environmental compliance assistance centre that is helping industries like tanneries and chrome chemicals, lead acid battery, dyeing and bleaching units.

    However, environment activists said that merely issuing guidelines was not enough. Implementation of these guidelines was more important.

    "The aim of the government is not clear. Only issuing guidelines will not help as there are several such guidelines that have been issued before. The government has to take proper action against offenders," said environment activist Naba Dutta of Sabuj Mancha.

    Earlier, it had been decided that no new sponge iron units will be allowed to come up and the existing ones will have to adhere to pollution control norms. The environment department recently decided to plant more than 1 lakh saplings on different highways of the state.

    WBPCB along with Kolkata Municipal Corporation is also trying to put a curb on the use stop the menace of plastic carry bags in the city by imposing fines on offenders. Billboards have also been put up in some places to create awareness.

    West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) has started a greening campaign in industrial belts of Haldia, Asansol and Durgapur that have been identified as critically polluted zones. The board has issued a 16-point guideline on running sponge iron units. Environment minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar said his department will soon embark on a mass tree plantation programme across the state. "We are stressing on a green economy," he said.

    WBPCB has already issued a 16 point guideline that all sponge iron units in the state must comply with. "We have asked the units to submit a compliance report to us within a month," said WBPCB chairman Binoy Kanti Dutta.

    The guidelines include a directive to use only surface water and not groundwater. The units have been asked to adopt rainwater harvesting and control stack pollution by using advanced machines and equipment.

    WBPCB has also asked several industries to themselves take up plantation programmes to increase greenery. Already, thousands of trees have been planted in and around Asansol sub division. "The aim is to carry out tree plantation programmes in all important industrial areas like Asansol, Haldia and Durgapur," Dutta said.

    Also, the authorities have set up an environmental compliance assistance centre that is helping industries like tanneries and chrome chemicals, lead acid battery, dyeing and bleaching units.

    However, environment activists said that merely issuing guidelines is not enough. Action is needed to implement the guidelines.

    "The aim of the government is not clear. Only issuing guidelines will not help as there are several such guidelines that have been issued before. The main thing is that the government has to take proper action against offenders," said environment activist Naba Dutta of Sabuj Mancha. It was decided earlier that no new sponge iron units will be allowed to come up and the existing ones should properly follow pollution control norms.

    The environment department recently decided to plant more than 1 lakh saplings on different highways of the state. WBPCB along with Kolkata Municipal Corporation is also trying to stop the menace of plastic carry bags in the city by imposing fines on offenders. Billboards have been put up in some places to create awareness.




    Industrial zones to turn green soon - The Times of India
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  • Blow to Mamata as HC strikes down Singur land Act

    Kolkata, June 22
    In a huge setback for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Calcutta High Court on Friday struck down the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act- 2011 as “unconstitutional.”

    The legislation was introduced by the Mamata government to recover 400 acres of land leased to Tata Motors in Singur for its small car project.

    Unconstitutional, rules court

    * The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act was passed by the Mamata government to recover 400 acres of land leased to Tata Motors for the Nano car project

    * A Division Bench comprising Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Mrinal Kanti Chaudhury, on an appeal by Tata Motors, observed that the Act was in violation of Article 254 of the Constitution

    * The Bench, however, allowed the aggrieved party two months time to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the verdict


    A Division Bench comprising Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Mrinal Kanti Chaudhury, on an appeal by Tata Motors Ltd, observed that the SLRD Act, passed in the state Assembly on June 14, 2011, was in violation of Article 254 of the Constitution. President's assent had not been taken for the Act and as such it was void and unconstitutional, said the court.

    The bench, however, allowed the aggrieved party two months time to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the verdict.

    Tata Motor’s counsel Samaraditya Pal (Bachu) expressed satisfaction over the judgment. Government counsel Kalyan Banerjee, who is also a TMC MP, said the state would be filing an appeal in the apex court.

    Visibly disappointed Mamata did not make any comment on the judgment. "I have no comments to offer on Singur verdict,” Mamata wrote on her Facebook page.

    But she reiterated her decision of returning 400 acres of land to farmers. The government was also planning some short-term rehabilitation packages for farmers. "Throughout my life, I have struggled for the cause of farmers, working class, poor and underprivileged. Our commitment to be with them will remain, whether we are in power or not. I will continue to fight for this cause," Banerjee wrote.

    Around 1,000 acres were taken over by the previous CPM government on May 19, 2006 for Tata’s Nano car project. Soon afterwards, the agitation began by the aggrieved farmers, who were unhappy over the compensation for their land. The Trinamool Congress chief had promised to return their land to them. It was also part of her campaign ahead of the Assembly elections, which she won with a thumping majority.

    After her victory in May 2011, Mamata decided to return the land to farmers. Accordingly, the SLRD Act was passed and 1,000 acres were taken over by the new government.

    Leader of the Opposition and CPM leader Surya Kanta Mishra said the HC verdict had vindicated the party's stand. "We have been saying that the Bill was unconstitutional and we had offered to give several suggestions to the government on how to go about it," he said. (With PTI inputs)


    -TNS
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  • Farmers will get back their land: Govt

    After the Calcutta High Court on Friday struck down the Singur Act brought in by the Trinamool Congress government last year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated her government’s commitment to return land to all those farmers of Singur who did not accept price for their land that was acquired for the Tata Motors factory.

    Minister for commerce and industries Partha Chatterjee, too, said the state government will throw its might behind the farmers. “Our Chief Minister sat on fast for 24 days for Singur farmers. We will continue our fight for their cause,’’ Chatterjee said in the Assembly after the verdict.

    State agriculture minister and Singur MLA Rabindranath Bhattacherjee said the ruling might trigger frustration among farmers who have been waging a battle to get their land back for the last six years.

    Bhattacharjee, however, said he would advise the farmers to wait for the Supreme Court’s judgment. “I will ask them to keep faith in the government, which is with the farmers of Singur. There is every reason to get frustrated. The farmers would have to wait for some more months to see the judgment of the apex court,” Bhattacharjee, one of the architects of the Singur movement, which changed the fortune of the Trinamool, said.

    The leaders of Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee — a Trinamool-controlled body of ‘unwilling farmers’ — will be asked to ensure that farmers do not lose hope, he added.

    The minister said the state government would expand the ambit of the financial package announced for the “unwilling farmers”.

    “Now we would try to bring share croppers, agricultural farmers under the scheme that was announced by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” Bhattacharjee said.

    The minister alleged that the CPI-M was conducting a campaign to create confusion among the farmers. “The campaigners are asking the farmers to accept cheques — something which is not legally possible as the matter was sub-judice. Under no circumstances cheques will be distributed to unwilling farmers at this point of time,” Bhattacherjee said.

    The minister said he had held a meeting with the farmers and leaders of Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee last night to discuss the future course of action.

    “We had decided that if the judgment goes in our favour, we would reoccupy the land for farming. We had decided to keep patience in case of an unfavourable judgment.”

    According to him, farmers of 256 acres of land have so far been found to be “unwilling” and they did not receive cheques from the government.

    Owners of another 70-80 acres of land in the fenced-off area will come under the list of unwilling farmers during further examination.



    Farmers will get back their land: Govt - Indian Express
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  • Mamata mulls move to stop malpractices in West Bengal Housing Board

    Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government is contemplating action against irregularities in the West Bengal Housing Board (WBHB) since the time of previous Left Front Government, which allegedly incurred huge loss of public money, state Housing Minister Aroop Biswas said.

    "During the past two decades, big chunks of land had been handed over to the Joint Venture Companies (JVC) without tender at a very cheap rate through non-transparent agreements with the companies", Biswas told media.

    These agreements served the purpose of a few persons with vested interest but the state had to incur loss of a few crores of rupees of public money, the minister said.

    A few constructions built under JVC have collapsed because of malpractices by promoters. As a result, the flats could not be transferred to the allottees, he said.

    The department was inquiring into these cases and action would be taken against those involved in it, he said.

    With the suggestion of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the department has planned to bring in certain major policy changes to bring in transparency in WBHB's work, he said.

    A separate website would be opened shortly to enable people to get all information about their position in regard to allotment of flats and other details. MORE PTI AKB Stating that no one could know how lotteries were conducted by the WBHB for allotment of flats during the LF regime due to lack of transparency, the minister said now the lotteries would be done in a computerised system openly in the presence of media, dignitaries and the applicants.

    If an application was rejected, the WBHB would now inform the applicant why it was not considered, which was not the case earlier, Biswas said.

    The minister said all tenders of the WBHB worth over Rs two lakh would now be done through e-tendering.

    Instead of only one bank, all the application forms would now be made available from at least four nationalised banks to impose transparency in the whole system, he said.

    "There will be one Technical-cum-Work committee consisting of nine members for monitoring and supervising all works of the WBHB", Biswas said.

    "There will also be a nine-member Monitoring Committee to keep a tab on the works of Joint Venture Companies and Assisted Sector Companies," he said.

    The minister said due to existence of the Arbitration Clause in the tenders of WBHB, the Board had to incur huge loss of public money.

    "Now steps are being taken to withdraw the Arbitration Clause to check loss of public money and thus to make WBHB vibrant", Biswas added.




    Mamata mulls move to stop malpractices in West Bengal Housing Board
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  • Land formalities hold up Katwa power project

    KOLKATA: West Bengal power minister Manish Gupta, who participated in the debate for the power department budget on Saturday, said that the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) will start construction work on the Katwa power project as soon as the process of land transfer gets completed.

    NTPC which needed 1,000 acres for the project had purchased 500 acre on their own, but they would need clearance under section 14Y of the state land reforms act for holding agricultural land in excess of 25 acres. Since the plots were in small parcels, the process of completion of 14Y formalities would take some time. Also, another 500 acres which had already been acquired by the state government would be handed over to NTPC, for which the latter would pay the state government Rs 200 crore.

    The state would soon have 1,850MW of installed capacity, Gupta said. The construction of two units at Sagardighi, of 500 MW capacity each, was expected to be completed by 2014-15.

    Gupta said the government did not have control over power tariff as this was determined by the state electricity regulatory commission. Some states had a power tariff lower than that in Bengal as these states had a scheme of subsidy on power tariff. In Andhra Pradesh, the subsidy amounted to nearly Rs 1,000 crore, he said.

    Overall, there was no shortage in supply of power in the state despite the rise in demand in summer but still there were load sheddings occasionally because of problems in the distribution network. Eighteen new sub-stations are being set up to overcome problems in the power distribution network, added the minister.





    Land formalities hold up Katwa power project - The Times of India
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  • Govt puts Buddha in dock, alleges scam in flat allotment to CPM leaders

    The state government today put several CPM leaders in the dock, saying the Left Front government sold government flats to them at a rate 20 to 25 per cent lower than the market rate.

    In a statement in the Assembly, minister of state for housing Arup Biswas gave the names of those who allegedly benefitted from the government's move. He termed it a bigger scandal than the Adarsh scam in Mumbai and said that the government would investigate the anomalies and take appropriate action.

    The name of Pradesh Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya, who is a neighbour of former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Palm Avenue, also figured in the list. The other CPM leaders in the list include leader of opposition Suryakanta Mishra, former ministers Ashoke Bhattacharya, Partha Dey, Dinesh Lakda, Shyamali Gupta and Mridul Dey.

    In his statement, Arup Biswas said: “The state government builds apartments for the general people and at present we have 20,276 flats in 89 estates across the state. So far in a case of blatant nepotism, by making false documents, the erstwhile Left Front government gave away 493 flats on a 999-year lease...it was quite illegal...they were given to political leaders and their relatives...they were given at a very cheap rate. We will investigate the scandal,” Biswas said.

    “How can non-members of the House be discussed in the Assembly? We cannot understand how this Assembly is being run,” Suryakanta Mishra said.



    Govt puts Buddha in dock, alleges scam in flat allotment to CPM leaders - Indian Express
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  • Singur Act not made in haste: Mamata

    Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today told the state Assembly that the government did not prepare the Singur Land Development and Rehabilitation Act 2011 in a hurry as alleged by the Opposition. The decision on Singur issue was absolutely right, she reiterated.

    The Calcutta High Court has recently struck down the said Act saying it was “unconstitutional”.

    The Chief Minister’s observation came while tabling a Bill to bring more Other Backward Class communities under reservation, in the Assembly today.

    The Bill was tabled in the Assembly during the Left regime, but the Governor did not give his consent. Following change in power, the Trinamool-led government decided to conduct a proper survey to identify the castes to be included in the OBC lists to enable people belonging to these castes avail quota benefits.

    Earlier, Mamata had said that the Bill was prepared in a haste during the previous regime, due to which the Governor did not put his signature to it. The new government prepared the bill after conducting a survey, she said and claimed that the state government did not prepare the Singur Bill in a hurry.

    Meanwhile, the state government on Friday observed the birthday of former Marxist Chief Minister Jyoti Basu in the Assembly. Though Basu’s date of birth is 8 July, the state government observed his birthday two days in advance because today was the last day of the Budget session. The Opposition MLAs have boycotted the program.

    Mamata, while paying tribute to the Communist maestro, said the Opposition played politics over observing Basu’s birthday. “They should have attended the program because Basu was their leader. I do not want to do politics over such a program,” she said.

    Assembly Speaker Biman Bandyopadhyay chaired the program while only one MLA from Congress, Asit Mal, attended it.




    Singur Act not made in haste: Mamata - Indian Express
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  • Sewage water flows out of Elgin Road taps

    KOLKATA: A thirsty Virender Singh, with a glass in hand, walked up to the tap on Thursday to quench his thirst. But on seeing a dark, thick liquid with insects in it flow into the glass, Singh - who has his office on Elgin Road - almost threw up. his thirst openeewas taken aback when he filled a glass of water at his Elgin Road office last Thursday. It was dark, thick and had insects floating in it.

    He threw away the water and refilled the glass. dropped it and filled his glass again.

    This time, a foul smell greeted him from the glass of water, the water smelt foul and was brownish in colour. Alarmed, he enquired with his neighbours who had a similar complaint.

    They, too, had been forced to turn off their taps that had suddenly started spewing contaminated water. None could drink or even use it. Several residential buildings and multistoried apartments on Elgin Road and neighbouring Woodburn Park have been receiving sewage water instead of the clean, potable waterthey are used to. Though a complaint was has been lodged with the local councilor, but no steps have been taken yet.

    Ravi Prasad, a resident of 7A Elgin Road, said he had never seen such dirty water flowing out of a Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) tap. "We have been using this water for decades but have never seen anything like this. "It looks as thick as petrol and smells like excreta. It was full of

    Small particles and insects were found floating in itand smelt horrible. We couldn't even touch the water," said Prasad.

    Majority of the residents of the area have been forced to switch to bottled water since there aren't enough tubewells in the area. "Even tubewell water is no longer safe in Kolkata. It's not easy to fetch it either.

    But bottled water is too expensive to be used daily. It can't be used for cooking or washing utensils," said Subir Mandal, a resident of 45 Elgin Road.

    A similar problem had occurred last year, Mandal added. "On that occasion

    Sewage water had been flowing out of drinking water taps then due to a fault in the underground water pipelines.

    It's dangerous for the water is not just contaminated, it's poisonous," he said. Some said that they had tried using it for washing utensils but couldn't. "The moment it touches your hand, you get an itching sensation. Also, the water is so dirty that you don't feel like touching it at all. It has got to be the sewege water," said Prasad.

    Locals have approached councillor Sachidananda Banerjee for help. He will The latter has promised to look into the matter and take it up the matter with the mayor on Monday.

    Almost the entire stretch of Elgin Road has been receiving the contaminated water, residents pointed out. Apart from complaints from Woodburn Park, a substantial area in ward number 70 has also been affected, they claimed. Complaints have poured in from Woodburn Park as well. "There must be some fault in the underground pipeline network of this area. It needs to be looked into urgently," said Mandal.

    MMIC (ground water) Tarak Singh said he hasn't received any complaint either from residents or from the councillor. "Once I get a the complaint is received , I will look into it," said Singh.





    Sewage water flows out of Elgin Road taps - The Times of India
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  • City-wide Metro network may start operating by 2015

    KOLKATA: The city's Metro network will be the second widest after Delhi, with the railways already allocating much of the funds for the construction of Metro tentacles across the metropolis and beyond.

    The railways have already started simultaneous constructions at a never-seen-before speed at alignments like Joka-BBD Bag, New Garia-Airport and Dum Dum-Barasat via Airport. The Metro railway authority has set a deadline of 2015 by which the entire network is likely to become operative.

    For this financial year, the railways have allocated Rs 750 crore for Joka-BBD Bag metro, Rs 1050 crore for Noapara-Barasat via Airport and Rs 1050 crore for New Garia-Airport. This is the highest ever allocation for any railway project in a metropolitan by the railways, said a senior Metro Railway official.

    The railways have also changed the Dum Dum-Airport alignment. Earlier it was thought that the Metro up line from Dum Dum would touch Noapara, Ramkrishna Pally and Shantinagar before reaching Airport and the down line would touch Noapara, Dum Dum Cantonment, Jessore Road and Airport. "However, to bring down the cost, we have changed the alignment. The alignment from Noapara to Airport via Jessore Road will be double-line for both way movements."

    In fact, the airport will also be connected by the 32-km New Garia-Airport via Rajarhat alignment. Both the Dum Dum-Airport and the New Garia-Airport alignments will go underground. There will be direct access from the Airport underground Metro station to the integrated airport terminal though a giant escalator. The Dum Dum-Airport alignment will go underground after reaching Jessore Road and New Garia-Airport alignment will go underground after reaching VIP Road.

    The 5.2-km Dum Dum-Dakshineswar alignment will run on an elevated track and will be further extended by 12.5 km till Barrackpore. "The constructions are on real fast-track, as we don't face land acquisition hurdle. The project sites are mostly on vested land and we have taken utmost care to be less invasive as far as razing properties are concerned," said Metro Rail spokesman Pratyush Ghosh.

    "There will be interchanging facilities for the passengers from one Metro corridor to another and also from suburban train services of Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway. For instance, the interchange between north-south and east-west Metro would be at Central station. Similarly, the interchange between Joka-BBD Bag and north-south Metro would be at Park Street," the spokesperson said.

    With these ever increasing tentacles of Metro network, a few suburban railway stations would be very important for their interface with Metro rail. For instance, Dum Dum will be an important stations where both north-south Metro, airport alignment and north-suburban railway will have an interface, said a metro spokesperson

    "So, we are asking the state government to upgrade the existing dispersal system, otherwise there will be complete chaos outside the station during the peak hours, once the entire operation starts functioning." Besides, we have plans to introduce the common ticket system for the commuters who need to avail themselves of different modes of rail transport to reach their destinations," the spokesperson added.

    With the introduction of a Rs 56-crore automatic fare collection ( AFC) and new ticketing system, the Kolkata Metro is also going snazzy. Three air-conditioned rakes have been introduced, giving much-needed respite to commuters in the sultry weather.



    City-wide Metro network may start operating by 2015 - The Times of India
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  • Farmers will get back their land: Govt

    After the Calcutta High Court on Friday struck down the Singur Act brought in by the Trinamool Congress government last year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated her government’s commitment to return land to all those farmers of Singur who did not accept price for their land that was acquired for the Tata Motors factory.

    Minister for commerce and industries Partha Chatterjee, too, said the state government will throw its might behind the farmers. “Our Chief Minister sat on fast for 24 days for Singur farmers. We will continue our fight for their cause,’’ Chatterjee said in the Assembly after the verdict.

    State agriculture minister and Singur MLA Rabindranath Bhattacherjee said the ruling might trigger frustration among farmers who have been waging a battle to get their land back for the last six years.

    Bhattacharjee, however, said he would advise the farmers to wait for the Supreme Court’s judgment. “I will ask them to keep faith in the government, which is with the farmers of Singur. There is every reason to get frustrated. The farmers would have to wait for some more months to see the judgment of the apex court,” Bhattacharjee, one of the architects of the Singur movement, which changed the fortune of the Trinamool, said.

    The leaders of Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee — a Trinamool-controlled body of ‘unwilling farmers’ — will be asked to ensure that farmers do not lose hope, he added.

    The minister said the state government would expand the ambit of the financial package announced for the “unwilling farmers”.

    “Now we would try to bring share croppers, agricultural farmers under the scheme that was announced by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” Bhattacharjee said.

    The minister alleged that the CPI-M was conducting a campaign to create confusion among the farmers. “The campaigners are asking the farmers to accept cheques — something which is not legally possible as the matter was sub- judice. Under no circumstances cheques will be distributed to unwilling farmers at this point of time,” Bhattacherjee said.

    The minister said he had held a meeting with the farmers and leaders of Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee last night to discuss the future course of action.

    “We had decided that if the judgment goes in our favour, we would reoccupy the land for farming. We had decided to keep patience in case of an unfavourable judgment.”

    According to him, farmers of 256 acres of land have so far been found to be “unwilling” and they did not receive cheques from the government.

    Owners of another 70-80 acres of land in the fenced-off area will come under the list of unwilling farmers during further examination.







    Farmers will get back their land: Govt - Indian Express
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  • Kolkata Municipal Corporation wants a pretty city but Kolkatans prefer shortcuts

    KOLKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee's beautification plan in Kolkata doesn't seem to have gone down well with a section of residents in and around Prince Anwar Shah Road. The under-construction median divider, running along the 5-km stretch from Tipu Sultan Mosque to South City mall, has been demolished at places to facilitate jaywalking. Officials of the KMC borough office, which is located just around the corner, has preferred to keep their eyes closed all the while.

    With broken slabs lying scattered across the roads, iron rods were found dangerously jutting out of the concrete structures at various points near Navina cinema hall, Jogesh Chandra College and the Tipu Sultan mosque. "If we want to cross the street for even a cup of tea, we have to walk the whole stretch to Jogesh Chandra College crossing. We had asked the construction people to leave a narrow space in between the divider to facilitate our movement. But our suggestions fell on deaf ears," said Sushil Shah, a shop-keeper near Indrani Park.

    Prince Anwar Shah Road is one of the busiest stretch and the fastest connector to EM Bypass. The median divider is supposed to restrict any violation by the two-way traffic and to stop the pedestrians from crossing the busy roads. "It is not convenient to walk all the way to a crossing to cross the street, so either you climb up the boulevard or break it to create space," said Sanjay Shaw, an employee at a nearby medical shop.

    The residents complain that the Kolkata Municipal Corporation officials supervising the beautification project should have thought about creating such spaces as there are major landmarks like the Navina Cinema or Jogesh Chandra College on this stretch. "College students face a lot of problems and people cannot cross the street easily even if they have to go to the theatre. So, breaking it down is the best option," said Tapan Mondol, a sweet-shop owner near the college. Mondol does not know who broke down the divider but is "happy" that some people in the locality did have the courage to do something like that.

    "There is Tollygunge Girls' School and Biswaspara Masjid opposite Navina cinema hall. During Ramzan, we face a lot of problems while we cross the street to go to the mosque. And the crevice serves our purpose," said Nazo Bewa, an elderly shopkeeper near Navina cinema. Bewa informed that the divider was broken 10-15 days ago." Though, I have heard that it will be re-built again," added Bewa.

    A senior official of the KMC civil engineering department conceded that local residents had demanded some space along the boulevard be kept open for them to cross the road. "We are discussing the issue with the Kolkata police officials. We will also talk to the local residents. After that a decision in this regard would be taken," the official said.

    Others, particularly motorists, do not share Mondol or Bewa's views on the matter. "I was happy when I saw the median being constructed. Within days, I saw portions being demolished. Women and children were trying to squeeze through the exposed rods. Now, motorists will have to be extra cautious while driving along the Anwar Shah Road. I don't know why such illegal acts are being allowed," said noted plastic surgeon Shankar Chatterjee.

    Also, the green cover on the dividers has already been reduced to dump yards. The incomplete boulevard has been painted with betel-juice marks all over the stretch.







    Kolkata Municipal Corporation wants a pretty city but Kolkatans prefer shortcuts - The Times of India
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  • Land acquisition stalls NH projects

    At a time the West Bengal government is at loggerhead with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for maintenance of national highways in the state, virtually all major projects of NHAI are on hold due to land acquisition problems.

    NHAI reports accessed by The Indian Express reveal that the land acquisition process for a meagre 13.32 per cent of the total land required by the authority in Bengal is complete. But NHAI is yet to have any of the land in its possession, even though it has completed the distribution of compensation for 236.183 hectares.

    The land required for five major NHAI projects including NH 34, NH 31, NH 31D, NH 6 and NH 2 is 1,771.642 hectares in 12 districts — North Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24-Parganas, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Cooch Behar, Howrah, East Midnapore, West Midnapore and Burdwan. According to the reports, the state government issued notification in 2010-11 for 1,191.099 hectares.

    The projects, however, are on hold for a year.

    The NHAI — which fixes the compensation packages for land owners after discussion with the local administration and according to the current price of the land — disbursed the compensation to the land owners in these 12 districts for 236.183 hectares. However, the national agency is yet to get any land in its possession for implementing the projects.

    “We have paid compensation for 236.183 hectares, but we are yet to get any land in our possession. The state government has issued notification for 1,191.099 hectares but we are yet to receive estimates for the compensation amount,” said a senior official of NHAI.

    State PWD minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar said, “Land acquisition in Bengal is not as problematic as is portrayed by NHAI. The national agency plans its projects very slowly and then keep the projects on hold, claiming they are facing land disputes. Shifting the blame to the states is very easy, but the fact is that NHAI has problems in fund flows, which delay the projects. We have told them several times that if they are facing land issues, they can give the funds to us and we will implement the project. But they are not ready to give financial assistance.”

    However, an NHAI official said, “All our projects depend on availability of land. Most of these projects were taken up in 2010-2011. But we could not start work in any of them. In the last year, we could only construct some bypass roads which added 65 km of road length to the existing structure.”

    NH 31D, the “most ambitious” project of NHAI in Bengal and an important part of the East-West Corridor which will connect Siliguri to the Assam border, is still stuck because of land issues.

    “We face serious legal problems with contractors. NHAI works on PPP model in which we provide the contract with the land and the contractors build the roads. We do not pay money to the contractors. We transfer the roads to the contractors and they operate the roads by collecting toll tax. But if the projects get stuck due the land acquisition issues, then we face legal problems as the contractors incur a huge loss,” added the NHAI official.

    Ghosh Dastidar added that the PWD has taken projects to construct 141 new roads in 11 districts and work orders have been issued.






    Land acquisition stalls NH projects - Indian Express
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