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SMC pulls down illegal structures

A bulldozer demolishes the illegal portion of a building on Sevoke Road in Siliguri on Friday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo

Siliguri, Nov. 23: The Siliguri Municipal Corporation today demolished illegal portions of three commercial buildings on the first day of its drive against structures that had come up in violation of rules.

The initiative was taken up after north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb accused the Congress-led civic board of not taking any step against illegal constructions across town.

Led by Deepak Dutta, an assistant engineer at the building cell of the SMC, a group of workers and staff launched the drive this morning.

The team first went to Sevoke Road and pulled down parts of a room and washroom raised by a restaurant owner in the parking area of a building.

Deb had hauled up SMC commissioner P.D. Pradhan on Monday, accusing him of not acting on a complaint against the illegal construction on Sevoke Road. The restaurant owner had started demolishing the illegal portions from Wednesday after the SMC had served a notice to the building owner. The eatery owner had taken the parking space of the building on rent.

“The work to dismantle the illegal portions was on. Some parts of the walls were still there and the civic body today pulled them down,’ said a resident of the area.

A bulldozer was pressed into service to dismantle the illegal structures.

The next stop for the civic team was a banquet hall on Sevoke Road where a portion of a wall was demolished. The group then went to a commercial building at Seth Srilal Market where the authorities dismantled a portion of a food court being run from the basement of the five-storied building.

“We initiated a drive to demolish illegal buildings from today and we have dismantled illegal sections of three buildings. Owners of all these buildings had been served notices earlier with instructions to dismantle the structures themselves,” said Dutta. “The drive will continue,” he added.

Mushrooming of illegal buildings across town had been one of the key issues that the Congress and Trinamul had raised many times during the Left Front rule in the SMC till 2009. After the Congress-Trinamul alliance came to power, the problem was not addressed for some time.

In the last couple of months, Trinamul alleged several times that the Congress-led board was sitting idle. Deb even accused mayor Gangotri Datta and the member mayor-in-council (buildings), both Congress councillors, of non-performance in addressing the issue of illegal structures.

The mayor today said: “We are not concerned about the comments of the minister. The civic body is committed to the people of Siliguri and will take all required steps to discourage this trend. There are certain limitations like less staff but even then, we have initiated the drive and it will continue.”

“The civic body expects suggestions and help from Trinamul instead of criticisms.”