The North 24-Parganas district administration has forced a resident of Basirhat to re-excavate a pond, which he had allegedly filled up illegally and sold as a plot to a promoter to raise a multi-storey building.
On Friday, the accused owner of the pond, Tapan Nath, began the re-excavation at his own expense after being ordered to restore the original look of the pond spanning 6 cottahs located on the Taki Road in Basirhat's ward 11.
According to the provisions of the West Bengal Inland Fisheries Act, 1984, filling up a pond of an area of 5 cottahs and above is a cognisable offence. However, Basirhat municipality authorities did not lodge a police complaint against Nath.
Responding to a joint petition by residents against Nath, Basirhat municipality chairman Aditi Roychowdhury Mitra, however, ordered a probe, involving the block land and land reforms department, which concluded that Nath had used unfair means to change the original character of the land to suit his interest.
Sources said Nath allegedly sold the filled-up pond as a residential plot to the promoter at Rs 85 lakh.
"The area is low-lying. The pond, which is more than 100 years old, works as a savior from inundation during monsoon," a local resident said.
Sources said that last month, Nath, a timber merchant, filled up the pond using earth and coarse sand, ignoring protests by nearby residents, in just two days. “Seeing this, we lodged a complaint before the municipality," a resident said.
Basirhat municipality chairman Mitra said: "On principle, I am against filling up of ponds. So on receiving the complaint, I ordered a probe. I sought the help of the local BL&LR authorities. The probe revealed that the pond was illegally filled up. So, the pond owner was asked to restore it to its original status."
On why no police complaint was lodged against Nath, the chairman said: "Since he agreed to restore the pond, we spared him this time...."
Nath refused to speak to the media.