The pond in Khardah a third of which (circled) was filled up with sand and soil on Friday night. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
A third of a pond spread across 20 cottahs in Khardah has been filled up in less than a day, allegedly at the instance of some local Trinamul leaders who ignored Mamata Banerjee's diktat not to fill up water bodies.
Residents alleged that more than 100 trucks entered Kalyan Nagar, a congested pocket in Ward 7 of Khardah Municipality, on the northern fringe, through Friday night.
They woke up on Saturday morning to the sight of a third of the water body being filled up with white sand and soil.
Residents said the landfill came to a halt on Saturday afternoon following the intervention of police, who were alerted by a section of local leaders of the ruling party.
An officer of Khardah police station said they received a verbal complaint from a section of Trinamul leaders. "We visited the spot and found that the allegation was true. A portion of the pond was filled up with white sand and soil. We patrolled the area but could not spot those who were behind the landfill. Seeing us, they disappeared. No formal complaint has been lodged," an officer said.
Kalyan Nagar - dotted with standalone buildings old and new, as well as housing estates - has two ponds which residents say save the roads in the neighbourhood from being flooded during the monsoon.
"I have been seeing these two ponds since my childhood. I never thought one of it would get filled up in such an illegal way. I heard the sounds of truck engines throughout Friday night. When I stepped on the balcony of my two-storey house, I saw a series of trucks laden with sand and soil entering the locality," recounted a man in his early 70s, who wanted not to be named. "None of us dared to protest because a section of local Trinamul leaders was behind the move to fill up the pond."
Metro tried to call local councillor Sayan Majumdar, of Trinamul, several times on his cell phone but he did not answer.
Tapas Pal, chairman of the municipality, admitted that a portion of the pond had been filled up illegally. "It happened in the the middle of the night when everyone was sleeping. The moment I came to know, the police were informed and the landfill was stopped."
Pal denied Majumdar was aware of the drive. "He was in the dark as sand and soil were brought in the middle of the night."
A local Trinamul leader said Majumdar had called up Kanoj Das Roy, finance minister Amit Mitra's secretary. Mitra is the local MLA.
"Kanoj was aware that the pond was being filled up. We came to know he had given Majumdar the go-ahead," the leader.
The allegation could not be verified. This newspaper tried to call Kanoj several times but his cell phone was either switched off or out of the coverage area.
Metro texted him the allegation and sought his response but he did not reply till late on Sunday.
"We asked the local police to stop the illegal landfill. We know they will again try to fill up the water body. It can be stopped only if we can draw the chief minister's attention," another local Trinamul leader said.
Most of the residents of Kalyan Nagar this newspaper spoke to were tightlipped fearing backlash from the leaders involved in the landfill.