January 9: Batanagar residents in South 24 Parganas held a protest against the filling of a 15-bigha water body by River Bank Holdings Ltd. The company claimed it had the fisheries department’s permission to carry out construction in the area.
The absence of a proper map detailing the exact position and number of water bodies under the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is the root cause behind the recent feud between residents and real estate developers, according to some civic officials.
Plot or pond?
While locals assert that the vacant area at 32, Canal Circular Road was a water body, the real estate developer Mani Group claimed it was free land. Siding with the residents, Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharjee said, “The place is a water body. I don’t want to say anything more.” “It’s the KMC assessment department’s fault. We have not sanctioned the building plan yet.
In fact, the absence of a proper map detailing the KMC’s water bodies is responsible for the chaotic situation today,” said a source in the Buildings department.
At present, the KMC engineers use has a tank list as reference, which dates back to 1995. “But the record listing about 3,200 water bodies is incomplete. That is why it has not been published or displayed on the KMC’s web portal,” complained a senior engineer of the Buildings department.
“Till 1978, the KMC’s Building department provided permission to fill up ponds for construction. But after the amendment of the Calcutta Municipal Act in 1979, no plan for a building on a water body has been sanctioned,” said Director General of the Buildings department, Gora Chand Mondol.
“The water bodies either had to be restored or maintained in their exact shape,” he added.
Comprehending the need of having a detailed map, the KMC has decided to start a tendering process to mark the exact position and number of water bodies in the city. “This is the only means of restricting the encroachment of water bodies. According to aerial mapping, the total number of water bodies existing in KMC area is nearly 3,200,” said Anindya Karforma, D G of Project management unit in KMC.
Five water bodies taken for by KMC for restoration
* 87/E Cossipore Road, Kolkata 2 (ward 1)
* 93 Daspara Road Kolkata 63 Behala (ward 124)
* 17/1C Fakirpara Lane Behala Kolkata 34 (ward 128)
* 69,Prince Bakhtiyar Shah Road Kol 33 (ward 89)
* 23 Topsia Road