Councillors wings clipped, denizens now breathe easy
A notification in this regard was issued on Tuesday and was relayed to all mayors and chairmen of civic bodies in the state. The notification puts an end to the “councillor raj” in civic bodies and helps residents intending to set up a house breathe easy, Hakim said.
It was the CPI(M) that established the “councillor raj” after coming to power in Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) in 1985. Thousands of water bodies in Behala, Jadavpur and Garden Reach were brought under KMC by The Kolkata Municipal Corporation Act, 1984 and called “added areas”. These water bodies were indiscriminately filled up by land sharks to make room for high-rise buildings. In all these land deals, local councillors received hefty cuts. This went on for 15 years from 1985. The topography of Jadavpur, Baghajatin and Ramgarh which were refugee colonies changed overnight.
Water bodies were filled up and one or two-storied residential buildings were pulled down to make room for apartments.
The councillors also supported unauthorised construction and an unholy nexus developed between some councillors, a section of police and KMC’s building department. Between 1985 to 1995, unauthorized buildings mushroomed all over the city.
A councillor’s job is to ensure that civic amenities reach residents. But to allow drainage and water connections in new buildings, they started demanding bribes. In case of new buildings, where the owners failed to grease their palms, councillors directed civic officials to issue “stop work notices.”
While analysing election results, Mamata Banerjee found that in many areas like Durgapur, Salt Lake, TMC candidates either lost or their margin was drastically reduced even when civic bodies were under the party’s control.
The chief minister has directed councillors to stop their high-handedness and Tuesday’s notification has very effectively clipped their wings.