Eviction drive after Didi tough talk

In a post-poll meet, TMC chief names and shames ministers/councillors over rampant corruption.
Eviction drive after Didi tough talk

KOLKATA: With Mamata Banerjee issuing a stern warning to some ministers, party leaders and a section of the bureaucracy during an administrative meeting over gross irregularities in awarding tenders and encroachment in footpaths, the police on Thursday continued their eviction drives in Kolkata as well as districts as the CM stated that she is not against hawkers but against encroachments on government land.

On Thursday police visited various districts and with the help of earthmovers evicted dozens of illegal encroachments in footpaths. Later, Mamata said she was not against hawkers.

“My policy is not to use bulldozers; I want restrictions to be imposed from the beginning,” she said at the state secretariat on Thursday in a meeting with state ministers, bureaucrats, police and hawkers’ union representatives. Mamata instructed the Calcutta police, mayor Firhad Hakim and others to carry out surveys in Hatibagan and the Grand hotel arcade.

“Don’t take bulldozers. Find out how it can be sorted,” she said. The chief minister also announced a five-member committee including three ministers — Arup Biswas, Moloy Ghatak and Firhad Hakim — would survey the areas in the state to find solutions to the encroachment and illegal-parking problems. The eviction drive will begin after the committee has surveyed the situation.

The drive comes weeks after Lok Sabha poll results were announced. The primary reason behind Mamata’s taking the bulldozer route is believed to be her party’s weakening hold in urban pockets.

Of the 144 wards in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, 141 are a part of the Lok Sabha seats of Calcutta North and Calcutta South and three in Jadavpur. The Trinamool was trailing in 47 wards in the Lok Sabha elections.

There are only seven members from the Opposition comprising BJP, Congress and the Left in the civic body. The BJP was leading in civic bodies in Bolpur, Gobardanga, Krishnagar, Balurghat, Raigunj, Burdwan, Englishbazar, Jhargram, Barasat, Ashokenagar, Madhyamgram, Bongaon, Katwa, Kalna, Alipurduar and Balurghat, among others.

From Tuesday onwards the Kolkata Police, with the help of earthmovers, started evicting encroachers from different parts of the city as well as Salt Lake Sector V. During the administrative meeting on Monday, which was shown live, Mamata pulled up councilors for awarding tenders in lieu of money without informing the state government, resulting in poor infrastructure. She cancelled all such tenders and stated the state government would conduct the process afresh.

The CM was upset with the work of the councilors. She pulled up minister Sujit Bose saying she was aware that he appointed people to the civic body without informing the state government.

She said, “This is the worst performance of municipalities. I don’t know why it happened. A section of councilors is taking bribes and making outsiders settle here. They want to change the identity of Bengal, but I will not allow this. There are dirty roads and nobody looks into it. Should I sweep the roads now?”

Mamata takes stock of TMC performance

The main reason behind Mamata Banerjee’s taking on her ministers, a section of bureaucracy is believed to be TMC’s weakening hold in urban pockets. Of the 144 wards in Kolkata Municipal Corporation, TMC was trailing in 47 wards in the Lok Sabha elections.

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The New Indian Express