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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

Panel to study government land grab: Committee includes senior IAS, IPS officers

The committee comprising finance secretary Manoj Panth, irrigation secretary Prabhat Mishra, city police commissioner Vineet Goyal and ADG (law and order) Manoj Verma will study the problem of encroachment on government land in Calcutta and Bidhannagar

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 22.06.24, 07:12 AM
Representational image

Representational image File image

The Mamata Banerjee government has set up a high-powered committee comprising senior IAS and IPS officers to look into the problem of encroachment on government land in Calcutta and its adjoining areas and suggest ways to free up such plots.

“The committee comprising finance secretary Manoj Panth, irrigation secretary Prabhat Mishra, city police commissioner Vineet Goyal and ADG (law and order) Manoj Verma will study the problem of encroachment on government land in Calcutta and Bidhannagar. It will suggest steps on how encroached plots could be recovered and how further encroachment could be prevented,” said a senior government official.

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During a meeting with senior government officials and heads of seven municipal corporations in the state on Thursday, the chief minister had expressed her dissatisfaction over encroachment on government land

Mamata, sources said, was angry for two reasons. First, the encroachment on government land has come in the way of Nabanna’s plans to monetise unused government plots. Second, the chief minister felt that encroachment, particularly on the footpaths in Calcutta and Bidhannagar, has been causing problems for city residents.

“The ruling party was trailing behind the BJP in vast areas of Calcutta and Bidhannagar in the Lok Sabha polls.... The results indicate a kind of growing discontent against the ruling party,” said a source in Nabanna.

“The ruling party was behind the nearest rival in more than 45 wards in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) area and it was trailing behind the BJP by more than 11,000 votes in Bidhannagar. The chief minister had pulled up Calcutta mayor Firhad Hakim and Bidhannagar MLA Sujit Bose for failing to control encroachment. The chief minister believes that encroachment was one of the problems that caused trouble for the ruling party,” said a source, who was present at the meeting on Thursday.

According to him, Mamata Banerjee is also upset after reports that the plan to monetise government land may go awry because of encroachment.

A survey by the South 24-Parganas district administration and the land and land reforms department revealed that a large tract of prime government land in ward 109 of the KMC was encroached upon and several high rises were constructed. Primary reports from other districts also suggest that more than 50 per cent of the unused government land located in prime areas have been encroached, sources said.

“This was why the chief minister was serious about dealing with the problem. The committee, comprising trusted officers of the chief ministers, is expected to act quickly on the issue,” said a senior Nabanna official.

Monetising unused government land and buildings has become a priority area for the government as the state is desperate to generate more revenue ahead of the 2026 Assembly polls.

“The chief minister knows that schemes like Lakshmir Bhandar have given her dividend in the Lok Sabha polls.… It is expected that she might announce some more welfare schemes and enhance the assistance under the Lakshmir Bhandar scheme ahead of the 2026 Assembly polls. So, she wants to generate more revenue by monetising unused government land and buildings,” said a source.

While the government is expecting results from the committee, delivering on the expectation would be easier said than done, said a source.

“Vacating encroachers is a sensitive political issue and the TMC has always steered clear oif such moves.... Besides, the ruling party has also encouraged encroachment on government land. It remains to be seen what the committee delivers on its mandate,” said the source.

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