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In land-sensitive state, racket
Trinamul rift on sale to grocer

Durgapur, Dec. 2: A Trinamul youth wing leader in Durgapur has accused a party senior of illegally selling government land lying unused for several years.

Sushanta Sarkar’s allegation against Arabinda Pal comes a day after he and his workers caught a grocer yesterday fencing off a plot in a ward represented by the mayor’s wife.

The grocer, Nayan Mandal, said he had paid a Rs 2-lakh advance to Pal, the chairman of the councillor’s committee, for two cottahs in Srinagar Pally that had been lying idle for over two decades.

“When we asked him why he was fencing off a government plot, he said he had struck a deal for the land at Rs 6 lakh with Arabinda Pal. He said he had already paid Rs 2 lakh to Pal, who had assured him there would be no problem if he built a house on the plot,” Sarkar said.

Pal denied the allegation. “Nayan Mandal had approached me to help him get the plot but I refused because I knew it was vested land. Our party does not encourage such illegal deals,” he said.

Sources said Pal had earlier sold some vested plots at half the market price. According to land brokers, the government rate in the area was between Rs 8 lakh and Rs 10 lakh a cottah. Sixty cottahs make an acre.

Sarkar alleged that Pal often used his “influence” to persuade civic body officials to allow the selling of vested plots. “Usually, there are no objections, unlike this one,” a Trinamul leader said.

Mandal, who was forced to leave the plot with his workers, said: “I didn’t know it was a vested plot. Arabinda Pal had assured me there would be no problem if I built a house there. He also said he would get the plan approved by the local civic body and register the land in my name with help from councillor Anindita Mukherjee (the mayor’s wife). But now I want my money back.”

Pal, earlier a CPM councillor from the same locality, joined Trinamul about two years ago after he was sacked from the Left party on charges of corruption. He is now the chairman of the councillor’s committee in ward 20.

Sarkar said Pal indulged in several illegal activities other than selling vested plots. “He also extorts money in the name of the party,” he alleged.

Some Trinamul leaders sniffed factionalism. A district committee member said Pal had become “popular” in the party and “this may have angered Sarkar”.