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9 Jun 2018

Deb orders encroacher removal

TT, Siliguri: State tourism minister Gautam Deb on Friday instructed officials of the Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri district to clear stretches of government land which have been illegally occupied in Siliguri and its adjacent areas.

The minister also said that a private group that has taken land years back for a project will be asked to launch the project or else, return the land to the state.

At his office in the Mainak Tourist Lodge campus, Deb spoke with where Joyoshi Dasgupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, Sunil Choudhary, the commissioner of Siliguri Metropolitan Police, Akhilesh Chaturvedi, the superintendent of police of Darjeeling district and PP Roy, the additional district magistrate of Jalpaiguri.

"Many stretches of land owned by different state departments have been encroached in and around Siliguri. In most of the places, permanent structures which are illegal have been raised on such land. I have already spoken with ministers of the concerned departments in this regard. At the meeting, administrative and police officials of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts have been instructed to take initiatives and remove such encroachers. They should also work to prevent land-grabbers from encroaching," said the minister.

Sources said chief minister Mamata Banerjee had recently expressed concern over the encroachment of government land across the state.

The minister, who is also the MLA of Dabgram-Fulbari Assembly constituency, had earlier expressed anguish in closed quarters after names of some local Trinamul leaders figured in illegal land deals and incidents of encroachment.

"He got agitated on learning that a section of party leaders are involved in illegal activities, particularly in his Assembly constituency. In Dabgram-Fulbari, there is around 600 acres of government land, a major portion of which has been encroached. He has passed a clear instruction to vacate such land stretches and on Friday again, he reiterated it to the officials," said a source.

Some other locations where such encroachment has been reported are in Panitanki (the India-Nepal border) and at Salbari, located on the northern end of Siliguri on way to Sukna.

"On Saturday, the tourism minister will visit Salbari with state agriculture minister. There are reports that land owned by the agriculture department has been illegally occupied by some people. The minister wants to send a clear message that the state will act sternly against people who are encroaching such land and even making illegal land deals," said a source. Deb also referred to a 25-acre plot in Fulbari, on the southern end of Siliguri that was provided to a private group that makes electronic gadgets, several years back.

"The private group had taken the land and had announced setting up a project where locals would have got employment. But so far, the land is lying unused. I have told officials of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation to send them a notice. They should immediately start the project or return it to the state. We can use it effectively then," said the minister.

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