The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Balm on barbed wire bruise
- Talk to leaders before fencing, Buddha to tell DMs

Calcutta, Jan. 21: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said land for roads and barbed wire fences along the India-Bangladesh border should be acquired after consultation with local MLAs and panchayats.

At a cabinet meeting at Writers’ Buildings this morning, jails and social welfare minister Biswanath Chowdhury said there were allegations that officials of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and other agencies supervising the measurement of land to be acquired were not following guidelines laid down by the Centre.

Chowdhury cited an instance in Hili, South Dinajpur, his home district. A fortnight ago, the senior RSP leader said, villagers there had opposed the fencing as a large tract of agricultural land was being rendered inaccessible to the farmers.

“This is not an isolated case. In other instances, we found that houses were being kept outside the fence or roads were being built through them. In most such cases officials carrying out the job did not have a proper idea about the topography of the area they were working in,” the minister told the meeting.

Sources said Chowdhury suggested that local people be involved in the process. Elected representatives like MLAs and panchayat members would be of great assistance in any construction work along the border as they would know the area well and ensure smooth work causing minimum harassment to the farmers and residents, the minister said.

The chief minister agreed. Bhattacharjee assured that he would instruct the district magistrates to involve local representatives and consult them while acquiring land for border fence and roads.

At the meeting, irrigation minister Amalendra Roy, also an RSP leader, referred to the proposal to impose taxes on pets, livestock and rural transport and urged the chief minister to have the plan ratified by the Speaker as it involves implementation of a legislation.

The chief minister, however, said the tax proposals have been shelved temporarily.

A number of ministers said after the meeting that it was good that the tax proposals were shelved as they could have an adverse impact on rural votes in the Lok Sabha polls scheduled this year.

Dunlop delegation: A delegation of the CPM’s labour arm, Citu, met commerce and industries minister Nirupam Sen and sought his intervention in the alleged move by Dunlop to sell off assets apart from those required to revive its Sahagunj unit in Hooghly. The unit has been closed since August 2001.

Sen said he has asked his department to look into the allegations and prevent Dunlop from selling the assets if the move was on.

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