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Blaze floors legal: minister

Municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya on Wednesday reiterated what The Telegraph has reported and told the Assembly that the two fire-ravaged floors of Stephen Court were not “illegal” as their construction had been sanctioned in 1975.

The Telegraph had on Monday reported that two successive governments, one headed by the Congress and the other by the Left, had sanctioned the construction of the two top floors which the chief minister dubbed illegal after the blaze.

The municipal affairs minister said Bramhadeo Dubey, an attorney of Stephen Court Ltd, had got the plan to erect three additional floors (BS plan 192) sanctioned on March 31, 1975. The sanction was valid for five years and was renewed for five more years on June 24, 1983, with effect from March 31, 1980.

The minister’s assertion contradicted Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s statement in the Assembly last Thursday. “How were the two new floors added to the building? They were illegal. Who broke the law?” the chief minister had asked.

The minister’s comment, which he made while replying to a debate on the CMC (amendment) Bill, made it clear that the chief minister was unaware of the reality last week.

“I don’t know who said what but the construction of the building or its upper floors cannot be called illegal on the basis of the information provided by the civic body,’’ Bhattacharya said.

He, however, left it to the state government-appointed panel to determine when the two additional floors were built. Despite pleas from Opposition members, Bhattacharya bypassed questions on the building’s ownership.

He was also non-committal on the demand for repealing the CMC Act which allowed regularisation of illegal structures against a penalty. “I personally don’t consider it right. But it has been done following court and quasi-judicial orders. I think the committee should review the legal provision and take a decision,” he said.

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