Several complaints regarding waterbody fill-up and administrative inaction have prompted the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to create a mechanism to ensure that each such complaint is looked into and action taken against violators, according to mayor Firhad Hakim.
“I met the police commissioner at the KMC headquarters recently and we jointly decided on a course of action to stop the filling up of waterbodies in the city,” said Hakim.
According to the mayor, steps would be taken against civic officials found sitting on complaints of waterbody fill-up.
Environmental activists said the talk will have to be matched by action. They spoke of how the filling up of waterbodies by real-estate promoters has become routine in the city.
“If anyone comes across any fill-up activity, they can complain to the police and the KMC. An FIR will be lodged. If the local police station sits on the complaint and nothing is done, the complaint should be forwarded to the director general (building) in the KMC headquarters,” said Hakim.
“Once such a complaint reaches the DG, he will send it to the police commissioner through the municipal commissioner. I have also made it clear that action will have to be taken against the real estate operators and promoters involved in the fill-up, rather than against the labourers at the construction site, which is the normal practice now,” added Hakim.
“We have already forwarded to the police the existing list of FIRs regarding waterbody fill-up,” said a senior official from the civic body.
A senior police officer at Lalbazar confirmed the meeting but said that stopping the filling up of waterbodies is the collective responsibility of the KMC and the police, and the cops should not be singled out. “Is it really possible for any police officer to sit on a complaint if the local councillor wants action against the culprit?” asked the senior officer, who did not want to be named.
“If the KMC is serious, it should start its crackdown in wards around EM Bypass. Ward number 108 has become the capital of waterbody fill-up in the city,” said an environmental activist.
Naba Dutta, the general secretary of environmental platform Sabuj Mancha, said the NGO is preparing a dossier on recent waterbody fill-ups in the city and plans to hand it over to the mayor.
“We welcome the mayor’s statement, but the ground reality does not inspire much confidence. The KMC must walk the talk,” said Dutta. He spoke of a recent waterbody fill-up where no action was taken despite an FIR being lodged by a very senior KMC official.
“Stopping waterbody fill-up is one of the major planks of our World Environment Day campaign on June 3,” said a representative of Sabuj Mancha.