The high court on Friday directed the West Bengal government to immediately remove unauthorised structures from both sides of a road connecting Behala in southwest Kolkata and Bakkhali in South 24-Parganas district.
The distance between Behala and Bakkhali is more than 100km and covers two districts.
The court was hearing a petition alleging that even after repeated protests by residents of Kulpi in South 24-Parganas, the state administration was not taking action to remove hawkers and unauthorised structures from the Karanjali market area.
Justice Rajasekhar Mantha said: “I have noticed that the government takes no steps regarding unauthorised structures built along thoroughfares or main arterial roads in towns. Why are these structures not being removed? Why is the government mum on this issue? An immediate eviction drive should be conducted on both sides of a road between Behala and Bakkhali for better movement of vehicles and greater interest of the public in general.”
Justice Mantha instructed the public works department of the state government to file a compliance report in two months from March 17.
Illegal structures are a common feature not just between Bakkhali and Behela. They have become a permanent feature in several parts of the city, creating difficulties for vehicles and pedestrians.
A resident of Sarsuna in Behala in the city’s southwest, who has to cross James Long Sarani every day to reach his office, complained that encroachments have narrowed the carriageway on several stretches.
“This is nothing new. Many roads across the city have been encroached on by hawkers or are covered with construction materials that make it difficult for people like us to commute,” said Rajesh Baidya, who rides a motorcycle.
Thousands of people like Baidya face problems in commuting because of encroachments along roads.
Unauthorised bamboo structures, leftover construction materials dumped on the roads, hawkers, stalls and unauthorised parking in “No Parking” areas are some of the reasons why the width of many thoroughfares has halved.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation and Kolkata police have started a joint operation to assess the number of hawkers in some of Kolkata’s most congested pockets, but it is making a slow progress.