Pond fill-up row in mayor backyard

Kolkata: Attempts to fill a pond to build multi-storey structures may stir controversy in mayor Sovan Chatterjee’s constituency with residents of Charaktola of ward 121 alleging that a 17-cottah pond had partially been converted into a construction site.

The residents claimed several complaints with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) had done nothing to stop the filling work as water was being pumped out of the pond, popularly known as Shantibabur Pukur. Promoters pointed out that they had all the necessary clearances.

The owners had earlier tried to sell the pond but residents of the area resisted the move. “The owner was slowly filling it to merge it with an adjoining plot he owned. We foiled the move and lodged a complaint. In February, we noticed that construction work had again begun,” said a resident who lives in the area.

Despite protests, the pond was finally sold off to a promoter who allegedly enjoys the patronage of a Trinamool leader-cum-syndicate owner.

Though the promoter assured that the construction work would not affect the pond, a resident said, “Parts of it have already been filled up with construction waste.”

Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, however, claimed he was not aware of any filling-up activity in the area. “I will take steps if necessary,” he said.

Promising to address the issue, Ambikesh Mahapatra, independent candidate backed by the CPM-Congress, said he had visited the area.

Kolkata: Attempts to fill up a pond to construct multi-storey buildings in a congested Behala neighbourhood threaten to snowball into a controversy at mayor Sovan Chatterjee’s constituency. Residents of Charaktola in ward number 121, which is a part of Behala East from where Chatterjee is contesting the Assembly polls this time, have alleged that a 17 cottah pond has been partially converted into a building site. Despite complaints lodged with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), construction work is in full swing and water is being steadily pumped out from the pond, it has been alleged. The promoters claim they have got the necessary clearances and that they haven’t encroached upon the water body, which is the only one in the area.

 

Popularly known as ‘Shantibabur Pukur’, the pond is believed to be around 75 years old and has been regularly used by locals. Around 10 years ago, the owners started dumping garbage into the water, which, neighbours alleged was a ploy to fill it up and sell it off. The owner had indeed tried to sell off the pond but locals resisted the move. “It is the only water body in the area and the owner was slowly filling it up to merge it with an adjoining plot that he owned. We foiled the move and registered a complaint with the KMC. In February, we noticed that construction work has been revived and that two buildings were coming up on the filled up portion of the pond. More dangerously, the construction workers are routinely draining out water from the remaining portion of the pond using pumps. It is now a matter of time before the entire pond is taken over,” said a doctor who lives in the area. The pond is now owned by a local promoter, who enjoys the patronage of a local Trinamool Congress leader-cum-syndicate owner, according to the locals.

 

When locals confronted the promoter last week and demanded to know why water was being drained out of the pond, the latter apparently claimed that it was merely being done to facilitate the work. “He said the pond will not be affected. But parts of it have already been filled up with construction waste and it is clear that the portion is lost forever,” said a resident.

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With just over a month to go for the elections in Kolkata, locals are not ready to allow the construction. They plan to lodge a complaint with the KMC again and will appeal to the mayor to save the pond. “This is his constituency and we believe he won’t permit this,” said a Charaktola resident who lives barely 100 metres from the pond.

 

Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said he was not aware of ‘any filing up activity’ in the area. “I will take steps if necessary,” he said. CPM candidate from Behala East Ambikesh Mahapatra said he was aware of the filling-up and has visited the area. “They are trying to fill it up with cnstruction waste and it will be an election issue. Scores of water bodies in Behala have been filled up by promoters. I will take up the issue,” said Mahapatra.

 

[SOURCE :-timesofindia]

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