Kolkata: Construction work at a dilapidated building in Bowbazar was stopped after the local councillor’s husband allegedly demanded money from the property owners. The issue was resolved after the owners wrote to chief minister Mamata Banerjee narrating their plight.
Back in January, Jyotirmay Basu of Gobinda Sarkar Lane started re-constructing the three-storey building he had bought seven years ago. “The construction started on January 5. The condition of the building was pathetic and the roof had developed cracks. It was quite dangerous to stay in the house,” said Basu. He claimed that the plan was sanctioned by the municipality and all necessary clearances were in place.
While the work was under way, a neighbour had allegedly lodged a complaint with KMC saying the sun-shades and windows of the new building were blocking the space between the two buildings. “We were ready to make changes as we did not want anybody to get disturbed. But he lodged a complaint with the municipal corporation even before he told us,” Basu recounted.
Basu alleged that a day after the complaint was lodged, Debu Datta — husband of local councillor Sanchita Mandal — came to their house and demanded money. “We told them that all necessary permissions were in place. But he insisted on a negotiation, which meant paying them Rs 2.5 lakh. That was not possible for us,” Basu claimed. He alleged that Datta had demanded money from him earlier, too, when they were conducting some minor repairs. “We had paid him the amount as that was a smaller one. But this time the demand was too high,” he alleged.
Datta claimed the allegation was baseless. “The work was stopped after the corporation served them a notice. We did not have any role to play in that,” he said. While Datta claimed that there was no reason why they could be made liable for stopping the construction work, Basu said they felt intimidated and sent an email to the chief minister. We got an immediate response and a senior official at Lalbazar stepped in.
According to Mandal, councillor of Ward 51, instead of looking for a solution from the corporation the property owners decided to involve the CM’s. “They had to stop work after the corporation served them a notice. Why would the house owners listen even if anyone demands money?” she said.
According to her, the complaint of the neighbour had to be heard and the corporation did that. “Had we tried to extort money from him, we could have stopped the construction work at the beginning,” she said.