The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Civic body rapped for flouting rules

The state urban development department has accused the Salt Lake municipality of allowing commercial activities on residential premises, in violation of rules.

The department, following an order from Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, has sent notices to 10 plot-owners in various blocks of the township for violating the lease agreement by running commercial establishments in residential areas.

According to the rules, the governor leases out plots in Salt Lake and the urban development department manages them on his behalf.

“We have come to know that a number of people in Salt Lake are carrying on commercial activities in residential pockets. Some have even got permission from the municipality, though the civic body is not authorised to issue such clearances. We are issuing a notice to the violators and sending a copy to the civic body,” said a department official.

The department has set a six-month deadline for course correction. If the violators fail to fall in line, the department will start legal proceedings to reclaim the plots.

Some of the plot-owners, however, have decided to contest the urban development department’s order. “I have a trade licence issued by the municipality,” said Haradhan Majumder, who runs a stationery shop at FD 415.

Another plot-owner, N.K. Moulik, has produced the municipality’s consent letters for his cybercafe in AK block before urban development department officials.

The department has also sent a letter to the municipality, asking it not to issue permission for commercial activities in residential zones. “The civic authorities are violating rules by issuing permission for commercial activities on plots earmarked as residential,” said a senior official.

The sub-divisional officer of Bidhannagar, Tapas Chowdhury, who is also chief executive officer of the municipality, admitted having received the letter from the urban development department.

“We are trying to stop commercial activities in residential areas,” he asserted, but refused to say why the trade licences were issued in the first place.

“It’s not a case of oversight. We often have to abide by the unofficial orders of the councillors, who insist on issuing trade licences to people close to them, even if it leads to violation of rules,” said a municipality official.

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