Eviction Pushes New Roads In Bengal

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Kolkata: The Bengal government could take up three important road projects in West Midnapore and North 24 Parganas – stuck for three years because of resistance from encroachers – after the authorities had forcibly removed illegal occupants halting a bypass construction in North Dinajpur.

The development – uncommon in Bengal since the land-related agitation started in Singur and Nandigram – is significant as the projects could be taken up only after Mamata Banerjee sent a clear message that the government or the ruling party would not side with illegal occupants of government land.

“Although more than 500 people were given houses under the Gitanjali housing scheme before acquiring land for construction of a bypass in Islampur in North Dinajpur, some of them were demanding more by occupying the land with the help of local political leaders. The district administration was forced to arrest some of them and send them to jail. This sent a message,” said a senior government official.

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The immediate effect of the move is visible around. The public works department has started the widening of Ghatal-Chandrakona Road and Midnapore-Keshpur road in West Midnapore and Barasat-Taki Road in North 24 Parnagas.

All the three projects were taken up about three years ago but little was done as encroachers had prevented the projects.

“All roads would be 10-meter wide, but there were at least 500 to 600 encroachers on each road preventing the progress of the work. But we have started work in full swing recently as those who were occupying land left,” said an official.