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Calcutta gets collector

The cabinet has decided to turn Calcutta into a full-fledged district with a collector at the helm, a move that will offer people across a vast stretch in south Calcutta a one-stop shop for land-related matters and a host of services.

“Land acquisition, stamp duty, rent control, thika tenancy, treasury… everything will be handled by the collectorate that will come up at 1 Harish Mukherjee Road (opposite SSKM),” urban development minister Firhad Hakim said at Writers’ on Thursday.

People now have to knock on the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s doors — those living in southern pockets have to approach the South 24-Parganas district magistrate’s office — for the services.

The collectorate’s jurisdiction will extend across all 141 wards in the city but the residents of the southern pockets that were earlier part of South 24-Parganas would benefit most from it.

For the entire city, residential certificates, domicile certificates, SC/ST/OBC certificates will be issued from the collector’s office, instead of the civic body. The collectorate will also be responsible for paying the state government’s pension to the elderly, widows and the physically challenged.

It will also play a role in Centre-sponsored programmes like census and disbursement of development funds allocated to legislators.

Following the cabinet nod, the government will issue a notification announcing the formation of the collectorate.

Sources said Avanindra Singh, now the district magistrate Purulia, could be the collector. If all goes according to plan, he may assume charge on September 17.

The collector will be below the police commissioner and the municipal commissioner in the executive hierarchy. “The collector will have the same authority as a district magistrate, except for magisterial powers that will remain with the police commissioner,” said an official.

“The powers of the Calcutta police commissioner and mayor will remain unchanged,” minister Hakim said.

Government sources said the decision to appoint a collector for Calcutta was taken as the South 24-Parganas district magistrate’s office was too burdened to shoulder the responsibilities of Calcutta.

Problem arose after the civic body’s area was extended in the south to include areas like Jadavpur, Kasba, Joka and Behala that were earlier part of South 24-Parganas.

The Election Commission, too, had asked the state to appoint a DM for Calcutta who would perform the district election official’s role.