Bengal: Mamata fumes at MLAs, bureaucrats, cops for below-par civic amenities

The CM named fire and emergency services minister Sujit Bose and held him accountable for encroachment in Rajarhat area near Kolkata

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee (photo: PTI)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee (photo: PTI)


Alleging that civic amenities almost everywhere in West Bengal have gone for a toss, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday, 24 June, questioned the ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats whether they expect her to sweep the streets of the state or not.

Chairing a meeting held at the state secretariat, primarily to review the performance of the various civic bodies in the state, an angry Banerjee slammed a minister, a former TMC mayor and a few bureaucrats for their “below-par performance”.

"Do I have to go out to sweep the roads now? You cannot walk looking up in the sky at times; you also have to look down. Nobody sees the condition of the roads and the street lights. They are just raising taxes and deploying people and both the police and the (civic) administration are not doing anything," Banerjee said at the meeting.

The Trinamool Congress supremo also said that the performance of the civic body officials will be reviewed by a team including vigilance department officers, the additional director general of police (Law & Order), an additional commissioner of police, officers from the CID and the director of security.

The chief minister said all tender processes will be centralised from now on to check “illegal monetary deals”.

She said the state urban development department has been allocated Rs 51,500 crore since 2011 when the TMC came to power in West Bengal.

“The government will not take a bad name for the actions of some individuals. I don’t want master extortionists. I want people’s servants. If they cannot perform, they must leave. In the coming days, only those who work for the people will get tickets (to contest elections)," she said.

Banerjee named fire and emergency services minister Sujit Bose and held him accountable for encroachment in Rajarhat area near Kolkata.

"Government property and land are being encroached upon and it was being allowed for money. Government property is not anyone's private property. I will not allow any illegal activity and encroachment," she said, further alleging that those who encroached land "have voted for the BJP".

The chief minister also holds the land and land revenue department.

She also named former Howrah mayor Rathin Chakraborty, who joined the BJP from the TMC, accusing him of ruining the city neighbouring Kolkata.

“Rathin Chakraborty ruined Howrah when he was the mayor. Illegal buildings have come up near (state secretariat) Nabanna. The police and everyone else involved have turned a blind eye to it. Do I have to look after everything?” she questioned.

The state secretariat is located in Howrah.

Banerjee also said she was aware that several TMC leaders, a section of the bureaucracy and the police were involved in raising money through illegal means.

The TMC chief also accused sub-divisional officer Amrita Roy Burman of neglecting Bally municipality, which is without a civic board.

She said that multiple interest groups have cropped up in every part of the state.

At the meeting, representatives from two civic bodies -- Taherpur in Nadia district and Jhalda in Purulia district – were not invited, officials said.

Banerjee alleged that the MLAs were doing whatever they felt like taking advantage in those municipalities where the boards had not been elected.

"I will clean up the entire system and then go for fresh elections. If need be the clean-up should start from my home,” she said.

Banerjee alleged that Bengal's true identity was tarnished.

Emphasising the need to protect the culture of Bengal, she said, "We like other cultures too and respect them. I am warning all who are conspiring to alter Bengal's identity. In exchange for money, Bengal's identity should not be destroyed. This is my first and last warning."

The chief minister, however, did not name anyone in this connection.

"If this continues, the state's identity will be finished. We will not find Bengali-speaking people anymore. Everyone knows Hindi and English today,” she said adding that she was not demeaning any language.

Responding to Banerjee’s outburst, BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said it is very surprising that the CM has "suddenly woken up to the malpractices of her councillors and local leaders.

It appears she was unaware of the wrongdoings till the other day, the Rajya Sabha MP said.

"Everyone is aware of the illegal building construction in pockets of Lake Town, Salt Lake, New Town and other parts of the city. Everyone will tell you how many water bodies had been filled up in recent years and buildings surfaced at those spots disturbing the ecology of the area,” Bhattacharya said.

It is good if she criticises her party men who are involved in the racket, but there is a stronger possibility that this is meant for public consumption, he said.

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