Sunday, May 19, 2013
Last Updated: 19 May 10:23 AM IST
23 November 2012
KOLKATA, 23 NOV: West Bengal's state government, which has under its control the country's only wetland that treats sewage naturally, has in effect allowed it to be built over. Despite Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's warning of stern action, the World Heritage Site in east Kolkata is now virtually up for grabs.
The erstwhile Left Front state government never implemented the management plan an NGO from Delhi had prepared. Its Trinamul Congress-led successor has made no attempt to implement the existing plan or prepare a new one, though Miss Banerjee and her colleagues say they are focused on the environment and will not allow water bodies to be filled up.
A large number of bheris under Sonarpur Police Station and in Ward 108 of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) off Jadavpur are being filled in. The RSP had tried to put up resistance against land sharks allegedly led by a Trinamul Congress minister who are filling up water bodies.
Two of those who raised their voices were beaten up and, despite complaints, no action was taken against the wrong-doers. The old technique of off-loading garbage into the water body and slowly converting it into land ~ which was followed by the builders during the Left Front regime ~ has been followed in toto. Recently, a fire broke out on the land at Chowbaga situated between the storm weather flow (SWF) channel and the dry weather flow (DWF) channel. Some local farmers used to illegally till the land and grow vegetables. They were driven out.
Local people alleged that under the patronage of a Trinamul Congress leader, those who recycle plastic and leather byproducts took control of the land belonging to the state irrigation and waterways department. The state government looked the other way allowing the businessmen to thrive. The East Kolkata Wetland Management Authority did not raise its voice against the businessmen.
Local people of Ward 108 alleged that real estate agents who had helped the CPI-M joined the Trinamul before the Assembly election in 2011. They allegedly have taken police on their side, who are passing on information about complaints.
"Instead of keeping the names of the complainants, police are passing on the information to the builders, who are threatening anyone who oppose them. Several letters to Miss Banerjee seeking her intervention failed to yield results," a resident alleged.