The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Salt Lake up in arms over land transfers

The illegal transfer of land in Salt Lake has raised a furore, with residents’ bodies and block committees alleging inaction by the authorities and demanding more stringent laws to curb the practice.

“Why aren’t the authorities implementing stricter laws to stop such transfers'” asked Narayan Basu, president of Bidhannagar Welfare Association, the central residents’ body in Salt Lake, with representatives from various blocks. Basu demanded that the West Bengal Government Land (Regulation of Transfer) Act, 1993, should be implemented immediately.

“On one hand, the government is losing revenue and on the other, people will be driven out of the township, frustrating the basic concept of providing shelter to middle-class Bengalis,” Basu told Metro on Tuesday.

He said the committee had submitted a memorandum to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee a year ago, with a copy to the ministers of finance, urban development and law departments and the chairman of Bidhannagar Municipality. “Still, no action was taken,” Basu alleged.

A committee, headed by municipal chairman Dilip Gupta, looks into cases of illegal transfers. The committee comprises government representatives.

The departments, which form the committee, separately conduct inquiries and submit the report to the committee, which in turn examines them and then takes decisions. But even then, residents allege nothing much is being done.

Dr Subhro Bhattacharya, general secretary, AD Block Residents Club, feels the municipality must not allow lessees to keep their plots vacant. “Many lessees keep their plots vacant, intending to sell them later. These lessees are being approached by brokers, who offer them huge sums,” Bhattacharya said. Recently, the AD Block Residents Club, along with Trinamul Congress councillor of Ward 2, Gopa Banerjee, submitted a memorandum to municipal chairman Gupta. They complained about a specific plot that had been illegally transferred.

Chandan Ghosh, CPM councillor of Ward 17, feels that “stricter laws need to be implemented to curb the practice. No transfer is taking place on paper. So, even if the authorities come to know that illegal transfers have taken place, nothing can be done.”

Chairman Gupta says the government is trying hard to curb the illegal practice. “Five years ago, there were 900 to 1,000 cases of illegal transfers. Today, the number is quite less,” he asserted.

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