The Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) clarified on Thursday that it didn’t have the authority to grant land rights to traders at Bidhan Market, the largest retail hub in Siliguri, and only the state cabinet was empowered to take such a decision.
Hundreds of traders have been demanding rights to the plots on which their shops are situated at the market. They are disgruntled with the alleged silence of the SJDA, which owns the land on which the market came up.
The shopowners observed a strike and took out a rally on Wednesday to press for land rights.
The market spread over nine acres hosts around 5,000 traders.
SJDA chairman Sourav Chakraborty made it clear on Thursday that the agency didn’t have the authority to grant land rights to the shopowners.
“In 2021, the state government had come up with a land policy that said without the approval of the cabinet, government land cannot be transferred to anybody. So, the SJDA or any other local body doesn’t have the right to transfer government land unless a decision is taken at the cabinet,” he said after attending the 149th board meeting of the SJDA.
Told about the demonstration organised by the traders and the strike, Chakraborty said if the merchants approached the SJDA with the demand, the same would be forwarded to the necessary authority.
Bapi Saha, the secretary
of the Bidhan Market Byabsayee Samiti, said the SJDA had not communicated the “limitation” to the traders so far.
“We have not received any formal communication from the agency in this regard. Now that they have expressed their helplessness, we will soon hold a meeting to decide our future course of action,” said Saha.
The board of the SJDA approved a vision document to carry out integrated development in and around Siliguri over the next 22 years.
Titled “Vision-2045,” the document, basically a comprehensive plan for infrastructure development, has been prepared by a group of experts engaged by the agency.
The plan has different components which include steps for improving traffic management, construction of new roads and bridges and recommendations to intensify digital surveillance in the city and its surroundings.
Chakraborty said the SJDA was also planning to install the statues of poets and fighters at different locations under its jurisdiction.
“Around 100 projects are being executed in the SJDA area now,” he said.