After leasing out land to commercial and social organisations to tide over its financial crisis, the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) now plans to go in for commercial ventures on its own plots. Two major ventures — one at Salt Lake’s DJ Block and the other at Ultadanga — are in the offing, officials disclosed on Friday.
The projects were discussed in detail at a recent board meeting of the CMDA, attended by urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya. “Both the projects are in the planning stage and details need to be worked out soon,” Sudhangshu Sil, chairman of the CMDA’s tender committee, told Metro.
The agency has decided to use its six-acre plot opposite Ultadanga railway station to build a commercial complex. The land is now used as a work-cum-living centre by some CMDA employees. “There are around 350 flats, occupied by our employees and some encroachers. Details of the projects have to be worked out,” an official said. “Although we have allotted plots in Salt Lake to some employees, a section of them is yet to hand over the Ultadanga flats. Also, some flats are being illegally occupied,” Sil said. “We will remove those holding dual occupancy as well as the encroachers,” he added.
The maintenance cost of these flats is thrice that of the rent being earned. “So, a viable alternative is being explored,” a CMDA official stated.
The project in Salt Lake’s DJ Block was scheduled to be taken up in 2001. The CMDA had planned the construction of an eight-storeyed building jointly with the Indian Railway Construction Company (Ircon). “Although the proposal was okayed by the state government, the Ircon management backed out of the project,” a top Ircon official said. The CMDA is now looking for a new partner for the joint venture, officials said.
The proposed building, at an estimated cost of around Rs 64 crore, will house several offices and a market complex, and will cater to the growing needs of the residents of Salt Lake. Apart from the market, there are plans to lease out space to corporate houses to recover construction costs, they said.
The steps have been hailed by the employees’ union. “This is an important move. The authorities must attach priority to revenue-generation to save the organisation,” said P.B. Nag, spokesperson of CMDA Suraksha Samity.
According to sources, the CMDA, facing a severe funds crunch, is trying to generate income by taking up such projects. “We have already leased out land to a food company, a school and a software institution on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. The joint-venture housing projects are also aimed at generating income and the commercial projects, once implemented, will add much-needed funds to CMDA’s coffers,” an official said.