Malda, July 3: The Englishbazar municipality today pulled down around 200 illegal shops along NH34 because the structures blocked the drainage system of the town, causing the waterlogging yesterday.
On Tuesday, two hours of rain had flooded all 25 civic wards and an operation theatre and male and female medical wards of Malda Medical College and Hospital.
In some parts of Malda town, water had not receded even yesterday afternoon.
Except six-seven wards, all the others were flooded today as the town got more rain.
Food processing and horticulture minister Krishnendu Chowdhury, also the chairman of Englishbazar municipality, had blamed the encroachments for the waterlogging.
Around 8.30am today, civic staff along with a police team and personnel of the Rapid Action Force began bulldozing the shops in Rathbari area in ward 18.
The operation was carried out along a 100m stretch of NH34 and more than 200 shops, mostly those selling vegetables and fruits wholesale, were pulled down.
While some stalls were made of bamboo mats, others were on wooden platforms with plastic sheets on top and few others had brick walls with tiled or asbestos roofs.
The operation led by Ashis Kundu, the local Trinamul councillor and chairman-in-council of the municipality, went on till noon. Kundu said the traders had been told about the drive. “Around 11am on Wednesday, we had sent our staff to Rathbari to tell the traders to remove the shops. These shops were on top of drains causing them to get choked with rubbish and plastic that resulted in the waterlogging. We will carry out similar drives in all parts of the town. We had tried to remove them earlier but the traders did not shift. This time we decided to be tough,” Kundu said.
“There was no way our staff could clean the drains as those could not be accessed because of the stalls. As far as the question of rehabilitation is concerned, we will not take responsibility. The shops were running illegally,” he added.
Today, shopowners at Rathbari said some stalls were over two decades old and the civic body did not give prior warning.
Shopowners blocked NH34 at Rathbari for an hour from 9am.