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Abolished: Haldia office with land brief

- Govt order cites ‘much reduced’ work

Haldia, Dec. 25: The office of the additional district magistrate that looked after land acquisition in Haldia has been abolished through an order from Writers’ Buildings, reflecting the Mamata Banerjee government’s hands-off policy on land.

A notification saying acquisition work has “reduced” in the industrial town was issued by the personnel and administrative reforms department on November 30.

The notice says the “post of ADM, Haldia” was created keeping in mind the “huge quantum of land acquisition” for the development of an “industrial town”.

“Now, after careful consideration of the matter, the Governor has been pleased to relocate the post of ADM, Haldia by creation of one post of ADM in the district headquarters at Tamluk with simultaneous abolition of the said post of ADM, Haldia with immediate effect…” the order to the East Midnapore district magistrate reads.

Officials said the government notification has cast a cloud on nearly 40 proposed industrial projects in Haldia, one of the industrial centres of Bengal.

“In all these cases, acquisition had been done to some extent till the new government was sworn in. But things did not proceed after May 2011. With this order, the future of around 40 projects in Haldia has become uncertain,” the official added.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has made it clear that the government will not play any role in land acquisition and private players would have to purchase plots directly from farmers as the government will not forcibly take land from them.

Asked about the order, East Midnapore district magistrate Pervez Ahmed Siddiqui said: “In the undivided Midnapore district, the headquarters was in Midnapore town, which is pretty far from Haldia. That’s why an ADM’s post was created in Haldia to oversee land acquisition. Now there is hardly any work for acquisition in this town as industry offers are few. That’s why the government decided to do away with the ADM (Haldia) post and office.”

Siddiqui added: “Tamluk is now the district headquarters of East Midnapore. That’s close to Haldia. The ADM’s office will now shift to Tamluk. The staff of the Haldia office will be transferred elsewhere.”

The ADM’s office was set up in Haldia in 1998 as part of the then Left government’s plans to set up an industrial township there. Besides land acquisition, the office used to look after disaster management, industrial infrastructure development and rehabilitation of land losers.

“Our new government is not interested in purchasing land even for public projects. What’s the use of the office in Haldia?” a land department official said at Writers’ today.

The CPM chairperson of Haldia municipality, Tamalika Panda Seth, said the significance of the office had “lessened”.

“It’s true that investments are not coming to Haldia after Mamata Banerjee took over. Their policy is not to acquire land. So, this office’s importance has lessened considerably,” she said.

Tamalika added: “Winding up operations of the ADM office would send wrong and negative signals to industry about Haldia being an investment destination. If private players are still interested in buying plots on their own, this office could have acted as a facilitator.’’

Asked about the order to wind up the office, Trinamul’s Haldia president Debaprasad Mondal said: “It may be that land acquisition is no longer needed in Haldia as industries are not coming. But there are instances of many landlosers not having got their payments in full… many also didn’t get rehabilitation. So, this office needed to function for some more time.”