The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party blocks mayor moves

Three schemes that mayor Subrata Mukherjee had taken up, keeping his party in the dark, have been brought under the Trinamul Congress scanner. He has been asked not to go ahead till a party decision is taken.

The three projects are a joint-venture housing project on Ritchie Road, taking a loan of Rs 300 crore from a private finance company, and the development of Lake Market without ensuring rehabilitation of the traders.

The party leadership took exception to the fact that the joint venture on a 16-bigha plot of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) on Ritchie Road was coming up at a 70:30 ratio.

Of the total floor space, only 30 per cent would be owned by the CMC; the rest would be taken over by the private party. Moreover, the sale price of the CMC share had been fixed at Rs 1,900 per sq ft, which is below the current market rate.

Councillor Anup Chatterjee, who had brought the matter to Mamata Banerjee’s notice, said that in the Ritchie Road area, realtors were agreeable to a joint venture for a 40 per cent share. He added that the prevailing real estate price in the area was around Rs 4,500 per sq ft. The mayor had defended his plan by stating: “The plot is being used as a dhobikhana. Washermen use the facility by paying a charge to the CMC. It is a sheer misuse of precious land.”

Explaining the Rs-300-crore loan from a private financing agency, Mukherjee said it would save money in the long run. Currently, the CMC takes an overdraft facility against its fixed deposit of Rs 300 crore in a nationalised bank. This means paying two per cent extra, since the rate of interest charged on overdraft by a bank is two per cent higher than the rate of interest paid on fixed deposit. “If the party does not allow me to go ahead, the institution will suffer,” he added.

Trinamul leaders had also advised the mayor to provide a rehabilitation package to the traders and vendors of Lake Market before carrying out development work. “I told them that the traders are licencees and the high court had turned down their appeal for an injunction on the project.”

Though Mamata Banerjee did not comment, party leader Sanjoy Bakshi said they were “streamlining operations” in the civic body to “remove misgivings from peoples’ minds”.

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