The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Clear-out crusade in Salt Lake

With pressure from the government and the ruling CPM mounting, the Salt Lake administration appears to have put in place measures to check the allegedly illegal transfer of prime plots in the township, where real estate unofficially is big business.

Former chief minister Jyoti Basu expressed his displeasure at a policy-framing meeting of Bidhannagar Municipality at the prolonged stints served by two executive engineers — one of them on post-retirement extension. The administration was forced to shunt them out.

The arrest on Thursday of a couple from Kasba, allegedly involved in a Salt Lake racket over a fake housing cooperative came as the “last straw” and forced the authorities to take a firm decision on cleaning up their act, officials say. They admit that a section of the CPM was at one with the Opposition over some officials getting to serve in the “coveted” municipality for so long.The administration was being “pressed” by a section of the ruling party to “get rid of certain retired officials, whose overstay in the municipality had set tongues wagging”, they said.

“There were protests against the several extensions granted,” a senior Salt Lake CPM leader admitted. “The party received complaints that the officials in question would hold back completion certificates, even those passed by the chairman,” he said, adding that the message that got round was that there were “other considerations” involved.

“One of the officers passed his retirement age some time ago and was on extension,” chairman-in-council Tapan Talukdar told Metro on Sunday. “He has finally been retired,” he added, disclosing that the replacement would be Samir Sengupta. “Another one was on deputation from the irrigation and waterways department and has been returned,” Talukdar said.

The issue has, for once, united even the opposition Trinamul Congress with the CPM, with the former supporting the removal of certain officers. “The retirement was long overdue and the officers should have been removed earlier,” said leader of the Opposition in the municipality Anupam Dutta.

Meanwhile, the removed officers, when contacted, refused to comment on the shunt-out decision, and instead, chose to highlight the role they played in the municipality’s achievements.

“We took over from the urban development department and started overseeing all civic work involving roads, the sewer system, streetlights and water supply,” one of them said.The “most memorable achievement” was the commencement of supply of water from Palta, he said.

“Garbage-dumping was another major challenge and we had to put in a lot of effort to regularise the service,” the officials claimed.

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