Warning the land mafia is not enough

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has warned the land mafia which is active in the State. She must be aware that the mafia work in cahoots with sections of the police, the middle and lower level bureaucracy and above all, with influential local leaders of her own party. She has admitted that even government land is being sold out to private parties by the mafia. This would not be possible without collusion with a section of the police, the bureaucracy and political leaders. Almost all vacant plots near Kolkata and other cities have been sold out by the mafia. Tanks, private as well as municipal, have been filled up, built upon and sold out. These tanks came in handy for the fire brigade people to fight fire. Now they have to pump in water from distant sources when a fire breaks out. In many areas, wanton encroachment has made it impossible for fire tenders to reach the site where fire has broken out.
It is common knowledge how the mafia rope in local leaders of political parties to help them in their activities on a quid pro quo basis. The filling up tanks and low-lying lands has caused another problem. The rain water during the monsoon has no water bodies to flow into. So, large areas remain water-logged for a long time after a heavy shower. The lands ‘looted’ by the mafia on both sides of the major arterial routes like the by-passes fetch huge money. There is no dearth of buyers either. They are always willing to pay for land illegally acquired by the mafia because the highways are close by.
There is a huge nexus between the land mafia, the police, petty officials and local political satraps. A part of the money generated by land-grabbing goes into the party fund. The lion’s share lines the pockets of the political leaders. It would be surprising if the Chief Minister is unaware of this. What is required is the political will and determination to bring to book all those engaged in this illegal business. If some guilty officials, policemen and political leaders are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and sent to jail, the mafia-raj will come to an end in no time.

Friday, 13 July, 2018