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Squatters out of staff flats

Over 60 families of squatters were evicted from the staff quarters of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on Dr Lalit Banerjee Sarani on Tuesday morning.

A CMCH official said these people have been occupying official living quarters of hospital staff for decades, although they were not entitled to stay there. “A team of police personnel and state health department officials conducted the eviction drive after the occupants allegedly refused to vacate the flats despite 12 notices and over 30 reminders over the past three years,” he said.

Sources said the evicted families were either tenants or relatives of hospital employees who had retired or died long ago.

Vicky Prasad, 27, was one such resident who claimed he had been living as a tenant at a one-room flat on the second floor for the past six years. He used to pay Rs 2,500 as rent to a person whose father had worked as a Group D staff and retired 10 years ago.

The eviction team faced stiff protest from the families before sealing the illegally-occupied flats.

The seven-hour drive was conducted in the wake of repeated complaints of criminal activities by residents living in the staff quarters.

Hospital superintendent Sikha Banerjee said: “The illegal occupants were depriving eligible employees. Worse still, the health department was paying electricity bills for the illegal occupants.”

Each employee occupying a flat in the building has to pay Rs 2,000 to the health department as house rent. In return, he or she gets free water and electricity.

The families alleged that they were not given time to vacate the flats. “They issued a notice on August 9. How can we find a new place and move out in 10 days?” asked Kusum Rani Jha, who have been living at that address for over 20 years. “The flat was allotted to my late brother-in-law.”

Old-timers wondered how long it would take for the illegal residents to return since most of the 200 families evicted in a similar drive in 2001 came back within a few months.

Built in 1833, the quarters for Group C and D employees is divided into four blocks. Block A is a three-storey building with 144 flats. Block B has 148 flats and Block C and D has 32 flats each. All the flats have one room with a kitchen and residents share common toilets.