The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Spat over building project halt

Calcutta, June 13: Thursday’s stop-work notice on Silver Spring was overshadowed on Friday by a ministerial muddle over whose right it was anyway to slam the brakes on the city’s largest and most expensive condominium.

The day after state environment minister Manab Mukherjee pulled up the project’s promoters for allegedly filling up waterbodies on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass plot, the state fisheries and aquaculture minister Kiranmoy Nanda asked his department to conduct an inquiry to “check” the charges. All waterbodies, he said, come under the purview of his department.

Highlighting what appeared to be a “communication gap” between the two ministers, Nanda claimed that Mukherjee had not informed him of the Isro satellite pictures, apparently showing that waterbodies had been filled for the housing project.

“I read in the newspapers that waterbodies had been filled to make way for the construction. So, I have asked officers in my department to carry out an inquiry. The report will be submitted on Monday, ” Nanda said.

If found guilty under the Inland Fisheries Act, 1984, the offenders could face up to two years of imprisonment and a Rs 2-lakh fine.

Mukherjee said work on the Rs 100-crore project of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and Bengal Silver Spring Projects Ltd, on the eight-acre plot next to ITC Sonar Bangla hotel, could not resume till the authorities obtained a no-objection certificate from the state Pollution Control Board. “The pollution board will decide on the next course of action,” Mukherjee said, after meeting representatives of the private promoter at Writers’ Buildings.

A director of Bengal Silver Spring Projects Ltd claimed that no waterbody had been filled, as alleged by the pollution board. “In fact, two artificial waterbodies will be created…. Mukherjee was somehow led to believe that we were filling up a much larger pond. When he pointed it out on a satellite image of the locality, we explained that it was not in our plot at all. The confusion ended there, but we have still been advised to obtain pollution board approval,” he explained.

The stop-work slap to the project is said to have embarrassed the CPM, since the project had been flagged off by former chief minister Jyoti Basu on Tuesday.

The leadership, sources said, is “particularly upset” with the way minister Mukherjee issued the notice in the absence of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, now in Italy.

Civic body mayor-in-council (building) member Swapan Samaddar maintained on Friday that the requisite clearances, “including the mandatory soil-test clearance certificate”, had been obtained.

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