The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Realtors driven out, plot turns into park

Resident resolve has not only resisted the realtor road-roller on Bangur Avenue, but also managed to make some flowers bloom amidst the concrete jungle.

In a show of solidarity against a section of land-grabbers, residents of a Lake Town stretch — including some prominent citizens — have turned a plot being eyed by the builders into a patch of green. Banamarmar, the park in ‘D’ block, was inaugurated on Sunday in the presence of poet Nirendranath Chakraborty, Calcutta University vice-chancellor Asish Banerjee, Vidyasagar College principal Shulapani Bhattacharya and other residents, who have prevented promoters from taking over 3.5 bighas of government land.

“When we realised moves were afoot to grab the abandoned plot, we thought this would be the best place to plant trees and create a breathing space for the residents,” said Asish Banerjee.

Residents recounted how in 1994, private builders had targeted the public works department (PWD) plot behind a boys’ school, for a highrise housing complex. “We contacted the PWD authorities and the South Dum Dum Municipality. Then local councillor, now municipality chairman, Srihir Bhattacharya encouraged us to push for a park,” said Prabir Chatterjee, general secretary, Bangur Residents’ Association. The municipality then spent Rs 1.5 lakh to fence off the plot of contention.

According to Chatterjee, some “unscrupulous developers” had also arranged to mutate the land illegally in their name. “We came to know of this two years ago… The park you see today is the combined effort of residents,” announced Chatterjee, adding that funds from the community Durga puja had been used to create this rectangular island of green, with a playground for children, a small tree-lined pool and benches for the elderly. About 150 trees have been planted by Ushanath Upadhay, a 75-year-old retired government employee.

Poet Chakraborty — who named the park Banamarmar — said: “This can serve as a beautiful meeting place for different generations.”

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