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Five families hold up road

A vital thoroughfare, linking Prince Anwar Shah Road with the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, lies incomplete five years after work started on it. The road, in chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Jadavpur Assembly constituency, has hit a stonewall because five families have refused to vacate a stretch of land measuring two kilometres.

Jibanananda Setu, near the crossing of Rashbehari Avenue and Prince Anwar Shah Road, was inaugurated by Bhattacharjee around two years’ ago. The bridge was built to facilitate movement of traffic to Calcutta airport from the south.

“This road should have been completed much earlier, but a few settlers are refusing to vacate,” said Sunil Chakraborty, chairman of the local borough committee. So, with the project facing jeopardy, the CMDA, the implementing agency for construction of the road, and the South 24-Parganas district administration have decided to get tough.

“Negotiations are on with the settlers and we will take over the land in phases,” Alapan Bandopadhyay, South 24-Parganas district magistrate, told Metro. “Illegal settlers have to be removed to pave the way for such an important road,” a senior CMDA official asserted on Sunday. “There is no fund with the CMDA for rehabilitating the settlers. However, our policy decision is to rehabilitate some of them, under various low-income Central housing schemes,” he added.

Local CPM leaders said the demand for ‘proper compensation’ was a major contention. “The Nagarik Samity has discussed the issue several times. The families have been there for several years. So, they must be compensated properly,” said a CPM functionary from Jadavpur. He said the settlers were demanding compensation at the prevailing land price.

Those encroachers on the land for over 20 years are determined to foil any attempt to remove them without proper rehabilitation. “We are not against development of the road but, at the same time, the administration cannot remove us overnight without offering us an alternative. This is inhuman,” complained Jitendranath Sen, who owns a two-storey house on the stretch since Independence.

He said state urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya had visited the area two months ago and told a rally there that alternative accommodation would be provided as soon as possible. “We shall shift elsewhere as soon as the government gives us an alternative site,” he added.

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