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Truck terminal deal scrap

Calcutta, Sept. 7: The transport department has decided to terminate the agreement with Calcutta Mumbai Truck Terminal Ltd, the private company that runs the Dhulagarh truck terminal off NH6 in Howrah, for holding ceiling-surplus land and alleged violation of the deal’s terms.

“The agreement is illegal. When the previous government signed the deal, we had objected but nobody listened to us. The government did not make any profit from the agreement. We are taking action based on legal findings,” transport minister Madan Mitra said.

The minister said 42.3 acres — far above the ceiling — were given to the company for setting up the terminus, violating the Urban Land (ceiling and regulation) Act and the Land Reforms Act. “They were allowed to hold ceiling-excess land,” Mitra said.

The minister said he was in favour of an inquiry commission to probe the Dhulagarh deal.

Mitra alleged that documents related to a proposed transport hub in Rajarhat spread over 283 acres were missing.

The decision to scrap the agreement on the Dhulagarh truck terminal was taken at a meeting of the West Bengal Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd’s (WBTIDCL) board of directors yesterday.

On July 3, 2004, then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had inaugurated the Dhulagarh terminal, set up to regulate the entry of trucks into Calcutta and bring down the pollution level. The terminal has space for 1,000 trucks and 1,500 small and medium goods vehicles. Trucks wait at the terminal before entering the city. Pollution checks and weighing of goods are done there.

“The joint venture agreement should be terminated because it is actually not a joint venture at all. All the benefits are flowing to the private partner. By using the joint venture agreement as a sign board, a private company has illegally held surplus land,” the resolution passed by the WBTIDCL’s board of directors said.

“The report (by a private firm) revealed that the day-to-day functioning of the terminal had no link with the WBTIDCL. We have not earned a single penny from the terminal,” said Dinesh Bajaj, the chairman of the WBTIDCL.

The board has issued a notice terminating the agreement and asked the land department to vest the plot.

Ramratan Chowdhury, the managing director of Calcutta Mumbai Truck Terminal, said he would consult legal experts after receiving the government’s notice. “I had bought the land in 2000 and started work on the terminalů. After receiving the government’s notice, I will talk to lawyers and decide on the next step,” he said.