The unfinished bridge in Debra that can be completed only if land is acquired. Picture by Samir Mondal
Loada (West Midnapore), Jan. 3: Work on a bridge that will help around 2 lakh people in West Midnapore is stuck since the Nandigram land agitation in 2007 as villagers led by a Trinamul faction have thwarted the local party MLA’s efforts to acquire land and finish it.
The 200-metre-long bridge over the Kangshabati tributary in Debra was started by the Left Front government in 2006 but could not be finished because land could not be acquired for the approach road on one side in the wake of the anti-acquisition agitation in Nandigram.
During the Assembly poll campaign in Debra in 2011, Trinamul had promised to complete the bridge — which will benefit residents of 150 villages — if it came to power.
After Trinamul won the seat, MLA Radhakanta Maity took up the matter with the district administration six months ago.
The district wing of the PWD conducted a fresh survey and found out that 7 acres in Loada village would be required for the approach road on the southern side. According to the plan, the approach road would be 600 metres long and 40 feet wide.
But when PWD officials went to demarcate the area in early December, house and shop owners stopped them. The villagers were led by a Trinamul faction apparently opposed to MLA Maity.
On December 23, the villagers led by local Trinamul leaders such as Madan Bhunia and Lutfar Rahman set up a Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee on the lines of the anti-acquisition outfit in Nandigram.
Bhunia accused Maity of keeping in the dark the residents whose plots had been identified for acquisition. “Trinamul’s policy is to first hold discussions with those from whom land will be acquired. But our MLA appears to have forgotten that,” Bhunia said.
“We demand that the compensation package be first discussed with the villagers before any further step for acquisition is taken. If the villagers are not taken into confidence immediately, we will resist the acquisition,” he added.
Lutfar, who owns a two-storey building on the identified land, said: “The MLA is not looking after our interests.”
Maity said there was “no question” of forcible acquisition. “A section of people who do not want development are trying to scupper the project,” he said.
Residents on the northern side of the bridge said they had to either rely on boats during the monsoon or take a 30km detour to Debra town.