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Latest News In and around Kolkata

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  • Re : Latest News In and around Kolkata

    Kolkata civic body defers property tax drive due to Covid-19

    The Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s drive against major property tax defaulters is proving to be a difficult exercise, given the renewed lockdown and the ongoing restrictions in the containment zones.
    KOLKATA: The Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s drive against major property tax defaulters is proving to be a difficult exercise, given the renewed lockdown and the ongoing restrictions in the containment zones.

    The special civic assessment department team that had started raids on major tax defaulters is now being forced to suspend their campaign till the strict restrictions get over as several complexes are reportedly barring them entry, citing contamination risk. Till now, the plan is to restart the drive early in August.

    Keen on augmenting the civic revenue, which has suffered a loss of around Rs 300 crore owing to the lockdown in the past four months, the KMC brass asked the assessment department to conduct a special drive against major property tax defaulters.

    Accordingly, the crack team was formed in June and the members, armed with notices, paid visit to several high-rises and commercial establishments, compelling some of the defaulters to clear their property tax dues.

    “We started the drive after June 8, when the unlock began and by a fortnight, we collected Rs 14 crore from some of the defaulters in the Park Street-Loudon Street belt alone. We were encouraged to conduct more such raids in prime residential and commercial locations in south Kolkata,” said a KMC assessment department official.

    But the civic body’s plan to launch a more stringent drive against tax defaulters soon fell through as KMC assessment department inspectors were refused entry into homes by the reported defaulters, citing strict lockdown norms.

    “It was a trying time for us as we were simply not allowed to go into the tax defaulters’ offices or residential complexes, citing restrictions to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus. We could understand it was actually a plea on part of some defaulters but given the situation, we could not serve any notice. We had to retreat,” said a KMC revenue department official. At the same time, some KMC inspectors were also reluctant to visit premises located in high-risk zones, fearing infection.

    KMC assessment department officials are now preparing a list of habitual defaulters who will be served notices as soon as the strict lockdown is lifted. In fact, a revenue official said, the civic brass wanted the assessment department team to relaunch their drive from early August.

    In the first phase, the KMC plans to mop up a substantial amount from 20 prime wards in south Kolkata. “While preparing the list of major defaulters in south Kolkata, we noticed if we could concentrate on 20 prime south Kolkata wards, we would be able to earn huge revenues,” said a KMC assessment department official.

    Revenue department sources said the prime locations would include Park Street, Loudon Street, Theatre Road, Elgin Road, Ballygunge, Rashbehari Avenue and Gariahat. He said that under pressure to increase revenue, which had dropped to an all-time low, the KMC assessment department might get tough with a section of habitual defaulters and even serve a distress warrant to attach their properties in case their dues were not cleared even this time.

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    • Re : Latest News In and around Kolkata

      Pond-like craters turn Belgharia Expressway into a death trap

      Sanjib Chakraborty | TNN | Jul 29, 2020, 04:32 IST

      Kolkata: Massive potholes on a nearly 600m stretch of the Dunlop underpass on the Dakshineswar-bound flank of Belgharia Expressway have virtually turned the subway into a death trap for motorists and bikers, with multiple accidents being reported from there.

      At Baranagar’s Niranjan Sen Nagar bus stand, close to the CCR Bridge-Belgharia Expressway intersection and barely 1.5km from Dunlop crossing, there is a crater as big as a pond. Subal Saha, owner of a nearby tea stall, claimed the crater was at least two-and-a-half-months old. “The potholes started forming since mid-May, but no repair has been done. With monsoon arriving, the craters widened, leading to waterlogging. The area stays under water for days and vehicles headed for Dakshineswar, Dunlop, Baranagar and Belgharia have to slow down, manoeuvring it,” Saha said, adding he had seen several accidents and breakdowns at that crater.

      The Dakshineswar-bound stretch of Belgharia Expressway is perhaps at its worst at Belghoria’s Satinsennagar and Rajibnagar, Indira Cololy, Niranjan Pally and Niranjan Sen Nagar in Baranagar. The bad condition of the road adds to the snarls. Sudipta Mukherjee, a real estate developer and a resident of Belgharia’s Udaypur, said they faced jams regularly on the expressway during peak hours.

      But Biswajit Mahato, DCP (traffic), Barrackpore Commissionerate, said they had written to NHA. “We are trying to fill the craters somehow,” Mahato told TOI.

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      • Re : Latest News In and around Kolkata

        Remove settlements below bridges: Experts

        TNN | Updated: Jul 29, 2020, 12:14 IST

        Hawkers below Sealdah flyover

        KOLKATA: The bridge advisory committee appointed by the government has recommended that all settlements below various bridges and flyovers across the city should be relocated. Bridge experts said these are detrimental to the structural healths of the bridges like Bijon setu, Sealdah flyover and Aurobindo setu.

        The experts said that before the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) takes up full-fledged repair and strengthening work of Sealdah flyover, Aurobindo Setu and Bijon Setu in a few months’ time, the hawkers and other settlements below these bridges will have to be relocated.

        The experts are concerned over the makeshift structures causing harm to the supporting wall and pillars of the bridges. A few days ago, cops were called in to stop a makeshift structure from coming up below Bijon Setu after the matter came to the KMDA’s notice.

        The technical modalities have been completed as the KMDA officials are waiting for the financial approval from the state cabinet to take up major repairs of several bridges on a priority basis.

        The four bridges where the work will be taken up on a priority basis are Ultadanga flyover, Baghajatin ROB, Chingrighata flyover and Kalighat bridge followed by other bridges like Sealdah flyover, Aurobindo Setu and Bijon Setu. The KMDA officials are already taking up the work to remove the extra bitumen layer to reduce load pressure from Sealdah flyover, Aurobindo Setu and some other bridges. Removal of tram lines on Sealdah flyover has also been planned.

        Sources said the shifting of the hawkers with their settlements had already been discussed earlier, but no solution could be achieved.

        National Hawker Federation general secretary Shaktiman Ghosh said they were waiting for a dialogue with the government over the issue. “Repairing the bridges is necessary. Hawkers’ livelihood should be considered. We are ready to discuss it with the government,” he added.

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        • Re : Latest News In and around Kolkata

          New Garia-Airport Metro: Work for 7 stations to begin next month

          Ajanta Chakraborty | TNN | Aug 5, 2020, 04:18 IST

          Kolkata: Work for the seven elevated stations of the New Garia-Airport Metro corridor along the 7-km stretch between Novotel hotel and City Centre II in New Town will start next month.

          That’s good news for the 32km metro corridor, which has been saddled with land logjams and other issues. Work for the seven metro stations had stopped in December 2018 after IL&FS, which had been awarded the contract, abandoned the project after the company ran into insolvency. ITD ITD-Cementation, the company which is building the last leg of underground tunnelling for East-West Metro, recently emerged as the lowest bidder for the Rs 292-crore work for the seven stations.

          In fact, not much progress was made by IL&FS, which had been awarded the contract for a value of Rs 299.76 crore in March 2014. Work was extremely slow paced and IL&FS had missed its 2017 deadline. As per the contract, work was supposed to be completed in three years from the date of issue of the letter of acceptance.

          “Only the structures of the stations had been built when IL&FS left the work in December 2018. Construction will resume next month,” an official of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), the agency tasked with implementing the metro project, said on Tuesday. ITD ITD-Cementation has also been given three years to finish work for the seven stations covering 7km from Novotel hotel till City Centre II.

          The seven metro stations starting with sub Central Business District (CBD)-1 and ending at Titumir for the line 6 of Kolkata Metro, which will connect Kavi Subhas station at New Garia to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport are Titumir, Sub CBD-2, Convention Centre, New Town, CBD 2, CBD-1 and Sub CBD-1.

          RVNL had terminated IL&FS’ contract in December 2018 due to slow progress and encashed their bank guarantee of Rs 43 crore. In 2019, RVNL invited bids for completing pending work for an estimated Rs 292 crore.

          There was trouble for construction of these Metro stations as armed gang attacked workers and looted raw materials from the New Town station site in May and August, 2018. In the second incident, armed gangs, carrying pistols and sharp weapons barged into the project site opposite Eco Park’s Gate No 2 and looted construction materials worth Rs 5.4 lakhs after tying up some of the security guards and chasing the others away.

          A total of 24 elevated stations will come up on the New Garia-Airport line. RVNL is trying to fast-track Phase-1, covering 5km between the terminal Kavi Subhas station till Hemanta Mukherjee station at the Ruby crossing so that the section can be commissioned around the beginning of 2022.

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          • Re : Latest News In and around Kolkata

            Kolkata: Land acquisition process starts for Joka-Esplanade Metro

            Rail Vikas Nigam will start issuing notifications under the Metro Railway (Construction of Works) Act 1978 to acquire parcels along a 1.5km stretch between Mominpore and Ekbalpore. File photo

            KOLKATA: The process of land acquisition for the underground section of the Joka-Esplanade Metro has started. Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), the agency tasked with implementing the city’s Metro projects, has just completed a joint land survey with Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).

            It will start issuing notifications under the Metro Railway (Construction of Works) Act 1978 to acquire parcels along a 1.5km stretch between Mominpore and Ekbalpore.

            The land is essentially being acquired for a 400m ramp from the elevated Mominpore station and till the start of the underground tunnels at the DH Road-National Library Avenue crossing, as well as the four entry points to Kiddepore station that will come up near Alipore Bodyguard Lines.

            Total length of the underground tunnels is 2.8km. But much of the stretch passes through land belonging to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). RVNL already has MoD’s nod for using Army’s land. Now it needs to acquire property belonging to other organizations and some private individuals as well.

            The list of these project-affected-persons (PAPs) and organizations was prepared after a joint survey with KMC. It includes a few shopowners and organizations like the Nepal Consulate, CMRI hospital, Kolkata Police, St Thomas School, St Teresa’s School and Bengal’s land reforms and PWD departments.

            An RVNL official said, “These are small pockets like a part of the courtyard inside CMRI hospital for the ramp or the front side of St Teresa’s School.” A part of St Thomas’ School will also be used for the station’s entry. RVNL and KMC officials recently met the school authorities to get them on board before notifying the acquisition order.

            Dialogues are being initiated with the Nepal Consulate and the individuals who need to give up shops in the area. Getting possession of land from government agencies like Kolkata Police and the Bengal government will be a mere formality, officials said.

            RVNL has the permission to use Army land for Victoria Memorial and Park Street stations. The 14.35km Joka-Esplanade Metro converges at Esplanade where a hub is coming up for three corridors. The existing north-south line already has its station at Esplanade. The upcoming East-West metro station is currently being built.


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              RVNL begins underground utility mapping for Joka Metro

              Ajanta Chakraborty | TNN | Updated: Aug 20, 2020, 10:38 IST

              Mapping work being done by Metro officials

              KOLKATA: Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) has started the work of mapping underground utilities for the 5.5km underground section of the Joka-Esplanade Metro corridor.

              RVNL will execute the process with the help of ground-penetrating radar over the next fortnight and prepare a report. Underground utility mapping or identifying the position and labelling public utility mains is crucial for building the 5.5km underground Mominpore-Esplanade stretch of the 14.35km metro link.

              After studying the underground utility status report, the British-era brick sewer at Mominpore, CESC cables and other lines for telecommunication, water mains, and waste-water pipes will be shifted accordingly and the coast freed for the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) to burrow and build twin tunnels through the alignment.

              “The GPR method uses radar pulses to detect the utilities. The process started yesterday and will carry on for the next 10 days from Mominpore to Esplanade,” an RVNL official said. “Utility mapping reveals what lies beneath the metro construction route. Information about the electric cables, telecom cables and sewers available with the KMC are incomplete, scattered or missing.

              Utility mapping involves reviewing existing records identifying the type and location of the underground infrastructure. Stumbling unexpectedly over an underground feature during construction can have serious consequences for the project,” the RVNL official said.

              The Joka-Esplanade link got a major boost last year when the railway ministry approved additional funds for building the underground tracks. With the revised Rs 2,685 crore allocated for the underground section, RVNL also started the process of land acquisition for the underground section.

              The Metro project was stalled since 2011 because of a stand-off between the railways and defence ministry and construction could happen only between Joka and Majerhat. RVNL has, therefore, split the project into two phases. The first phase is elevated -- from Joka till Majerhat. The second phase is from Majerhat till Esplanade.

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              • Re : Latest News In and around Kolkata

                More New Town condos eye safe-home approval

                Ajanta Chakraborty | TNN | Updated: Aug 25, 2020, 15:29 IST

                The safe home set up by PS Ixora

                KOLKATA: Greenwood Sonata, a housing complex in New Town, had shown the way and now more gated communities in the township are preparing themselves for their own Covid safe homes.

                Last Wednesday, the state government had given its approval for Covid safe home inside Greenwood Sonata, making it the state’s first housing complex to have a facility for housing residents with mild coronavirus symptoms.


                This is an ideal solution. There is no shortage of beds right now but housing complexes having their own safe homes solves the problem of too few beds for non-serious patients. All SOPs should be followed.

                As the news spread, New Town Forum and News (NTFN), the NGO that is facilitating the cause and working on several social welfare projects in and around New Town, started receiving requests from other housings to help them set up such safe homes. “While waiting for Greenwood Sonata’s approval from the chief medical officer of health (CMOH), North 24-Paraganas, we already had 11 proposals in the pipeline. Now, there are around 10 more apartment complexes willing to turn their community halls into Covid isolation centres,” NTFN chairman Samaresh Das said.

                Among those who approached NTFN is DLF Heights in Action Area III. Sameer Sharma, secretary of the residents’ association, said: “We have nine blocks with 2,000 people living in 500 flats. Five of our residents have already had Covid-19. A Covid-19 safe home is the need of the hour. We have quite a few in-house doctors ready with voluntary 24-hour service. Our infrastructure is sound, for at least three safe homes. There are club houses (community centres) in different blocks. Funds are no issues.”

                NTFN members visited DLF Heights on Sunday to advise on procurement of hospital beds (with hand cranks) along with other equipment. They also advised on how to operate the safe home and provided basic guidelines on 24-hour caregivers, who will need separate quarters, changing rooms and washrooms.

                Another apartment complex, PS Ixora, is readying itself for an inspection of its safe home by the health authorities. Beds, fans and television have been set up in the community hall. There are medical kits that have N95 masks, oxymeters and sphygmomanometer. A team from the CMOH office in Barasat, local WHO representatives and officials from New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) is due to visit shortly. PS Ixora director Parimal Ghosh said: “We hope the inspection team will like our Covid care centre and we will get the approval soon.”


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                • Re : Latest News In and around Kolkata

                  Kolkata civic body to fine builders for blocking roads

                  An amendment in the KMC Act has empowered the civic body’s solid waste management department to impose spot fines on builders who encroach on roads and pavements.

                  KOLKATA: The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is set to crack the whip on errant builders who stack construction material on the city’s roads and pavements.

                  From imposing fines to issuing stop-work notices, the civic authority has chalked out multiple punitive actions to clear the streets following chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s warning that these encroachments were choking the city’s drainage system and leading to widespread waterlogging.

                  Sources in the KMC buildings department said the municipal commissioner on Wednesday issued a circular asking officials to prepare a list of builders flouting rules and hand over the list to the solid waste management department for levying spot fines and seizing construction material dumped on the roads.

                  An amendment in the KMC Act has empowered the civic body’s solid waste management department to impose spot fines on builders who encroach on roads and pavements. The amount may vary from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 depending on the number of offences.

                  According to KMC rules, a builder is allowed to stack construction materials near the site till the ground floor of the building is built. Thereafter, the construction material has to be moved into the site. “Any deviation from this rule will attract spot fines,” said a solid waste management department official.

                  The civic brass also wants to teach a lesson to repeat offenders by confiscating the material after the second offence and issuing stop-work notice after the third.

                  A KMC drainage department official said large areas get severely waterlogged during monsoon because of choking of the underground drainage system by construction materials like sand and stone chips.

                  The state municipal affairs department is set to write to municipal commissioners of KMC, Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation and Howrah Municipal Corporation, asking them to take appropriate action against errant builders.

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                    West Bengal to handover freehold land deeds to people of 119 refugee colonies

                    For the purpose, the state government is preparing a database and an initial list of around 15,000 residents is ready while another one of around 6,500 people is getting prepared, he said.
                    • PTI
                    • Updated: September 01, 2020, 23:42 IST

                    KOLKATA: The West Bengal government is planning to handover freehold land title deeds to over 20,000 people residing in 119 refugee colonies of the state, a senior official said on Tuesday.

                    For the purpose, the state government is preparing a database and an initial list of around 15,000 residents is ready while another one of around 6,500 people is getting prepared, he said.

                    "Once the list is complete, it will require the approval of the chief minister after which the date of distribution of the land title deeds by her will be fixed," he said.

                    In March this year Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had distributed freehold land title deeds to the residents of 94 refugee colonies in the state.

                    She had announced about taking similar measures to distribute freehold land deeds to residents of another 119 refugee colonies.

                    The entire survey was conducted by officials of the state Land and Land Reforms and Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation department amid the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

                    Of the residents of the 119 refugee colonies around 3,500 beneficiaries are from neighbouring Howrah, Hooghly, North and South 24 Parganas and Nadia districts, he said.

                    There are a large number of people from Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Malda, Uttar and Dakshin Dinajpur districts, the official added.

                    According to the official, a freehold land title deed owner will not be able to sell the land for the first 10 years.


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                    • Re : Latest News In and around Kolkata

                      Land acquisition starts for 2nd depot of longest Kol Metro link

                      Ajanta Chakraborty | TNN | Updated: Sep 8, 2020, 14:47 IST

                      KOLKATA: Land acquisition has started for the Rs 900-crore depot for the Airport side of the New Garia-Airport Metro corridor.

                      Construction for the city’s longest Metro corridor’s other terminal is already on at Sonarpur. But the second car depot can’t be built near the terminal Airport station because of restrictions from the Airport Authority of India (AAI). So, land is being acquired behind City Centre II, away from the terminal station.

                      The elevated corridor covering 32km, linking New Garia (Sonarpur) in extreme south and Airport in the north, via EM Bypass, needs a car depot that will serve as the nerve centre for the project. The state-ofthe-art New Town depot, spanning over 17 hectares, will be one of the largest Metro depots in Kolkata, almost as big as the other spacious depot at Joka, which is being built for the Joka-Esplanade Metro. The doublestorey New Town maintenance and stabling facility will house 22 rakes at the same time.

                      “The AAI strictures would not allow the depot to be set up at the terminal Airport station because civil construction would disturb radar signals. There are height issues as well for constructions in the vicinity of the airport,” said an official of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), tasked to implement most of the city’s Metro projects.

                      Fortunately, searching for land parcels wasn’t difficult because there are already vested government plots in New Town and Rajarhat areas. The rest will be acquired from private owners and hefty compensation paid under the Metro Railway (construction of work) Act, 1978. After acquiring land, around two years will be needed to build the maintenance depot. “Train inspection, maintenance and washing of rakes will be done here. Since some of the land here is low-lying, the level will be raised by 2 to 3 metres to prevent flooding during monsoon,” said an official.

                      An automatic coach washing plant will be installed at the depot to wash coaches. It will have a waste-water treatment plant that can recycle the water used for washing Metro trains. “Once the depot is ready, it will accommodate a total of 22 trains. The total track length should be around 15km. The depot will be state-of-the-art, boasting of eco-friendly, green and energy-efficient design,” the RVNL official said. The depot will have two inspection bays, a lifting bay, workshop, bogey shop, wheel shop and an administrative building among other units.

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