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Contrary voices in Trinamul

Gautam Deb and Ranjan Silsharma

Siliguri, Nov. 19: Trinamul leader and Siliguri deputy mayor Ranjan Silsharma today denied the charge repeatedly levelled by his party that the Congress-led civic body was not taking action against illegal buildings in town.

Silsharma’s denial came almost simultaneously when another leader of Trinamul, minister Gautam Deb, alleged that the SMC authorities had taken bribes to let illegal buildings mushroom in Siliguri.

He also called up the SMC commissioner and asked him what action had been taken against a building being built in violation of rules on Sevoke Road.

The north Bengal development minister was in his office at Vivekananda Bhavan here this afternoon when he got a complaint about the illegal commercial structure, a restaurant, on Sevoke Road. Local people told him that they had submitted a memorandum to the SMC, objecting to the construction.

Deb called up Siliguri police commissioner Anand Kumar and told him to investigate the matter. Bhaktinagar police went to the spot soon and stopped the construction work. “It is astounding that the SMC has not taken any step so far. A section of people at the SMC is accepting bribes to allow such illegal construction. The mayor always says she has no information about such activities and we find no reason for her to stay in the post,” the minister told the media.

He then called up SMC commissioner P.D. Pradhan.

“What are you doing there, sitting in the SMC? Have you taken a bribe? If not, then why aren’t you working according to law and demolishing such buildings? You need not be afraid of those who are taking bribes and allowing such illegal work,” Deb told Pradhan over the phone.

“The site (Sevoke Road) is in my Assembly constituency and I will go there tomorrow. If the building is not demolished by then, I will call a media briefing, mentioning the civic body’s failure and your inability to address the issue. I will also be forced to mention the issue to the state urban development minister.”

While the minister was accusing mayor Gangotri Datta and Congress member-mayor-in-council (buildings) of “making the SMC a hub of corruption,” Silsharma, sitting in the SMC headquarters that is a few kilometres from Deb’s office, was holding forth on the Congress-led civic board’s good work.

Seated next to Datta, Silsharma brushed aside the allegations levelled by Deb.

“The civic body is doing its best to discourage construction of illegal buildings. However, the building cell lacks the infrastructure and enough hands to carry out the task. The building cell has become impaired and inefficient during the 15 years of Left rule at the SMC. We have written to the urban development and municipal affairs department for more employees. Otherwise, it is not possible for us to handle the issue,” said Silsharma.

Asked about the charge of building rules’ violations mentioned in a memorandum submitted to the mayor by the minister, Silsharma said: “Gautam Deb is our principal leader and has sent the letter to the mayor. I would prefer not to comment on it.”

Later, Deb said the party would talk to the deputy mayor as his comments had raised questions in Trinamul circles.