KOLKATA, 19 JAN: A house and pond owned partially by an 80-year-old woman in the Rajarhat-Gopalpur area, has attracted politico-environmental contention with both the CPI-M and the Trinamul Congress illegally trying to make the property accessible to a real estate developer for constructing residential apartments.
The house, built in the 1930s, is one of the oldest in Baguiati’s Gautam Para and named after Santosh Kumar Gautam who helped form the locality. The developer, Mr Prabir Ghosh, is the Licensed Building Surveyor (LBS) of the Rajarhat-Gopalpur municipality and brother of local Trinamul Congress councillor, Mrs Kakuli Ghosh Bagui.
The 34-cottah property, initially owned by Mr Gautam, passed on to his daughters, Mrs Geeta Chatterjee and Mrs Shefalika Chatterjee. The property includes a 10-cottah pond. Mrs Shefalika Chatterjee had sold her portion of the land to Mr Prabir Ghosh. Half of the house was demolished and in the process Mrs Geeta Chatterjee’s portion was damaged and half of the pond filled up. Demolition debris and other wastes were dumped into the pond, affecting the quality of the water and killing fishes.
Mrs Geeta Chatterjee said: “They could have at least left the pond alone. That pond was constructed by my father with his own hands.” She alleged that the promoter had tried to grab her portion of the land and brought goons at the dead of the night to threaten her. Her elder son had to leave the house and shift to another place for his daughter’s safety.
She had complained to the chairman of the Rajarhat-Gopalpur municipality, Mr Tapas Chatterjee of the CPI-M, but no action was taken. The state fisheries department had inspected the area and on 14 May, 2009 it issued a stop-work order on the pond filling and directed for its restoration.
Mr Chatterjee claimed ignorance of the situtation and said he would check records. Incidentally, the fisheries department had asked the civic chairman to ensure that the stop-work and restoration is carried out.
Mrs Kakuli Ghosh Bagui refused to comment. Her husband, Mr Someswar Bagui, the ward committee secretary, initially refused to admit that Mr Prabir Ghosh was Mrs Bagui’s brother. He later said that they have a no-objection certificate for the construction and pond-filling, dated 3 September 2009, from the assistant secretary of the fisheries department. Meanwhile, an environment protection committee set up in the area has been campaigning against the work by putting up posters all over the neighbourhood. However, they refused to divulge their identity.