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FIR order on road digging

Siliguri, May 11: Mayor Gangotri Datta said today that she had instructed the commissioner of the civic body to file a police complaint against the private firm that had dug up roads without permission to lay cables for 4G services in town.

The order on the police complaint has been given at a time the member-mayor-in-council (public works department), Sujay Ghatak, has been accused of taking bribe for settling the compensation to the SMC at a lower rate. The charge was raised by the Opposition as well as a section of leaders in the Congress.

“As allegations have been raised against the private firm that it has initiated the digging of civic roads at some locations of the town without our permission to lay the 4G cables, I have instructed the commissioner of the SMC to file a complaint with the police against the firm concerned. The instruction has been given on the basis of a decision taken by the civic board,” Datta said this evening.

According to sources, the telecom firm has been assigned with the task of laying the 4G cables across Bengal and to provide high-speed Internet data service to subscribers.

The mayor, when asked whether the police complaint would be filed against the telecom firm, said it was for the commissioner to decide.

“We have asked the commissioner to file the complaint against the firm which is responsible for digging up the roads without our permission. It is up to him to see whether it is the telecom firm or any other company which is involved in the digging,” she said.

Its not known whether the telecom company had awarded a contract to any individual or firm to dig up the roads.

The controversy over the digging of roads had cropped up at the end of last month, when some Left Front councillors asked the mayor at the monthly board meeting whether permission had been given by her for the work.

The mayor said no permission had been given. But later, Ghatak clarified that the telecom firm had deposited money with the SMC as compensation. The firm has been informed that as the model code of conduct is in force on account of Lok Sabha polls, the civic body could grant permission only after the polls.

However, last week, allegations were levelled against Ghatak by a section of his own party leaders that while the firm should have paid compensation to the tune of Rs 12 crore, considering the existing government rates and the length to be dug up, Ghatak had accepted a bribe and settled the compensation at Rs 7 crore.

Ghatak wrote to the mayor to clarify that the norms had been followed while accepting Rs 7 crore from the company. He also threatened to file defamation suit against those who had levelled the allegations. The Congress leaders who are up against Ghatak are reportedly led by the Shankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president.

“The Congress felt that there was no other way than to act against the firm to prove that the civic board headed by Datta was acting transparently. That is why the mayor has ordered the filing of a police complaint against the firm,” said a political observer.

Reacting to the mayor’s decision, Ghatak today said: “Apart from the Rs 7 crore which was recently deposited by the telecom firm to lay cables along 117km of civic roads, the company had made another deposit of Rs 1.33 crore in 2013 to lay cables along some other civic roads. Accordingly, permission was granted by the SMC against the earlier deposit. Permission against the second installment was supposed to be issued after the model code of conduct is withdrawn. We need to find out whether they have dug roads which were mentioned in the earlier deposit of 2013 or have dug roads out of this 117 km stretch.”

“I have no official information about the mayor’s instruction to the commissioner to file a police complaint against the firm. I want to reiterate that if they have dug up roads without permission, they could be penalised.” he added.