The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doors shut on illegal occupants
- Ouster order from govt flats

The government has decided to wrest more than a hundred flats in different housing complexes across Salt Lake from “senior state government officials and eminent persons” occupying them illegally.

“We have made a note of some government officials, former people’s representatives and others using the flats illegally. Besides, many of them have allowed their friends and relatives to settle down there, which is completely unlawful,” said urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya.

“We have repeatedly told them to stop this practice but to no avail. Some of the errant allottees have already been identified. Now we are left with no option but to take over those flats,” he added.

The urban development department owns 1,902 flats in 15 housing complexes, including Shrabani, Phalguni, Bichitra and Baisakhi, at prime locations in Salt Lake. The flats are rented out to “senior officials and eminent personalities”, including MLAs and MPs, who do not have an address in and around the city.

Minister Bhattacharya took the drive-out decision after a marathon meeting with his departmental officers on Thursday. “We shall issue a notice to the occupants on Monday with a 15-day deadline to vacate the flats or face forcible eviction,’’ said an official of the urban development department.

Around 62 government officers and 20 others, including doctors, former MLAs and MPs and prominent names from the arts, feature in the ouster list drawn up by Bhattacharya’s department.

Officials said several of the illegal occupants stay elsewhere but have refused to give up possession of these flats for years. A few have taken possession of the flats despite having their own residences in the vicinity, some others have allowed their relatives and friends to stay on. For a section, these flats serve as weekend getaways, while a handful have turned them into private clinics and coaching centres, officials alleged.

“The flats maintained by the urban development department are both spacious and well-located. The rent, too, is negligible compared to the locality’s market price. We had rented out the premises to those who needed them urgently, but for living purposes only. We shall not tolerate the illegal practices on our premises any more,’’ Bhattacharya stressed.

The minister said special arrangements would be made to evacuate officers who have been living there long after retirement, often backed by a court injunction.

The ouster of illegal occupants will clear the path for the complete renovation of several housing complexes that are now extremely ill-maintained, the minister added. A refurbishment plan is being drawn up.

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