The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Largest lottery for land

Applicants: 25,000. Plots: 2,200. Place: New Town. The countdown to Bengal's biggest-ever lottery for land is on.

Organised by the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco), the implementing agency for New Town Rajarhat, the lottery for space in Action Areas II and III will start on May 31 and continue on five more dates in June.

The computerised lottery, to be held at Science City and Nazrul Mancha, will be conducted by the Department of Electronics Accredited Computer Centre, a government of India undertaking, using customised software.

Earlier, such events were held on the ramps of Salt Lake stadium. The new arrangements have been made to cope with the huge numbers involved, explained Sumantra Chowdhury, Hidco managing director.

Lotteries for different categories will be held on different days. 'There are demands for different categories of land, like cooperative and individual plots,' added Chowdhury.

Transparency is top priority. 'The lottery will be held in the presence of the applicants. Giant screens will also be placed at the venues,' stressed the Hidco managing director.

Applications for land in Action Areas II and III closed in February. 'Normally, we take a month to hold a lottery after receiving applications. But this time, we had not foreseen the rush. It took us nearly three months to scrutinise about 25,000 forms,' said Pradyut Biswas, general manager, Hidco.

Around 200 officers and technicians will man the two venues, aided by security personnel and giant screens, to ensure there is no trouble. The results will also be published in leading newspapers.

Keeping in mind the recent chaos at Science City over a TV talent hunt, housing minister and Hidco chairman Goutam Deb has directed his department to take steps to ensure a trouble-free event.

The housing minister has also assured aspirants that those who are not allotted plots this time will have another chance in the next lottery, if they do not withdraw their application fee.

'We are trying to accommodate as many people in New Town as possible. We are developing more zones in Action Area III to help applicants get a plot,' said Deb.

Hidco has hiked the prices of all land categories, ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000 per cottah. Officials, however, denied the price hike had anything to do with the surge in demand.

'The price of all commodities is rising, so is the price of land. We spent Rs 1.75 lakh to develop one cottah of land but we sell an MIG individual plot at the same price. We also have to provide subsidy to the economically-weak,' said Subodh Bhattacharya, director-general, Hidco.

Only the HIG and commercial plots are profitable, he pointed out.

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