The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Demolition skirts party offices

The police, public works department (PWD) and the Rajarhat-Gopalpur municipality on Sunday decided to set right a wrong committed during the 10-hour eviction drive along VIP Road on Saturday night.

Around a thousand shanties, stalls and huts were demolished as they were within 30 feet of the road. More than 3,000 people were affected. However, offices of the Citu and the BJP, though reportedly within 30 feet of VIP Road, were left untouched.

Following an outcry over the alleged irregularity, the authorities concerned reviewed the situation on Sunday.

“We’ve decided to demolish the Citu and BJP offices in Baguiati. They were overlooked on Saturday,” admitted municipality chairman Tapas Chatterjee.

“We’ve measured the distance between the two offices and the road. Both are in the forbidden 30-foot zone. We’ll surely demolish them, just as we have pulled down other illegal structures,” he added. The next phase of the drive will take place on September 2.

Hours earlier, the officials were singing a different tune. “Our brief is to demolish all structures that have sprung up within 30 feet of the road. These mostly comprise eateries, garages and shops selling bamboo sticks. I have no instruction from my superiors regarding offices of political parties,” PWD executive engineer S. Ghosh said on Saturday night. He was among the officials who supervised the demolition drive.

While most of the evicted persons left the place quietly, a few raised their voices against the bias. One of them, Ratan Mitra, a signboard painter, alleged: “They are targeting the poor, who have no one to back them.”

Swarup Pal, sub-divisional officer of Barasat, who was in the supervising team, refused to comment on the allegation that the PWD had acted in an arbitrary manner. “I have not received any such complaint. And I won’t comment on the demolition of the office of any political party,” he said.

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