The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Staff shift to free prime civic land

The quarters for civic labourers, occupying prime plots worth more than Rs 500 crore, will be relocated and the land put to 'productive' use.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) ' frantically scouting for ways to mobilise resources ' has decided to take up development projects through joint ventures on over 100 bighas across the city, that are now occupied by the quarters.

'We feel land in prime areas is being wasted,' said mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya. 'By relocating the quarters and putting the plots to productive use, we can boost the financial health of the civic body.'

There are 15 boroughs in the CMC area and every borough, except borough XIII in Behala, has at least one cluster of quarters.

'The public-private-participation wing of the civic body is finding out exactly how much land is locked by the quarters,' said municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay. Set up last week, the wing is functioning under joint municipal commissioner Mohammad Sahidul Islam.

According to civic officials, the authorities will not have to spend anything on the joint-venture development projects. 'We will provide land, which the private parties will develop with their own funds,' said an official said.

Officials said the quarters were set up in every borough to ensure that the labourers stayed closed to their place of work. 'But with public transport becoming a lot more accessible, it is no longer necessary for the workers to stay near their posting. A sweeper posted at New Market can come to work daily from as faraway a place as Cossipore,' the mayor said.

According to civic engineers, three or four multistoreyed buildings will be enough to relocate the labourers, who are now living in over 18 shanties. Most of the labourers staying in the quarters belong to conservancy department. There are also some from the water supply and drainage & sewerage departments.

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