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A decade on, vendor rights still stall new Lake Market

Twelve years behind schedule, and further delay ahead. Differences of opinion among the mayor and his council members over the rehabilitation of around 500 traders and vendors may push back the Lake Market project even further. The scheme was launched in 1991.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee is reluctant to resettle the vendors or even offer them a temporary or alternative site, because they are mere “licencees”. His council members, including member (market) Samsuzzaman Ansari, however, are with the traders.

The Rs 16-crore Lake Market development scheme is back in the doldrums, with the traders and vendors, though snubbed by the high court, refusing to budge without a tripartite agreement.

Following discussions with the Lake Bazaar Sanjukta Byabsayee Samity, a team of mayoral council members, led by Anup Chatterjee, has decided to visit the market on Saturday. The team includes Swapan Samaddar, Pradip Ghosh, Javed Ahmed Khan and Samsuzzaman Ansari.

“The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is not a business organisation, but a socially responsible institution. Hence, it cannot ignore the rights of the vendors, who have been plying their trade in the market for over 30 years,” pointed out Anup Chatterjee. “The CMC should assure them of rehabilitation,” he felt.

The mayor countered: “The traders had moved court against the CMC but their plea was dismissed. They have no legal right to demand resettlement.”

The rift has prevented the project and development department of the CMC from handing over the market to developer Arun Plastics for carrying out construction work. According to agreement, the developer will get three years’ time to construct the proposed seven-storey structure on the three-bigha plot, from the date the vacant plot is handed over to him.

The CMC had taken up redevelopment of its Lake Road market as a joint venture with Arun Plastics in 1986. The civic body will get 10,000 sq ft for itself, after the market is developed free of cost. Moreover, to help the promoter generate more space, the CMC had sanctioned the construction proposal under provisions of the building rules of 1977.

“It is essential that this matter gets resolved promptly,” the mayor asserted. “This is one of the more important projects the civic body has taken up in south Calcutta. I hope the traders will see reason,” he added.

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