Opinions vary on selling land for Kolkata Tram Depot

Kolkata: Is selling government land in prime locations of Kolkata, where virtually no land is available, a reasonable decision? There are two opinions on this even among those in government.

“The price at which the land was given is much less than the market rate. To buy the same land again the government will have to pay four times the money,” said Shantilal Jain, the previous chairperson of CTC, who is also a leader of ruling Trinamool Congress in central Kolkata. “Moreover, one also needs to find out how much the government will have to cough up to remove the (tram) rails, maintenance rooms, staff quarters etc. A substantial portion of the money earned will go out in preparing those depots for the buyers,” Mr Jain said. He feels, the government could have earned a lot more by “just renting it out” and thus retaining the property.

The Transport Secretary, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, disagreed. He said that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the State government to provide subsidy on public transport. “I agree that subsidy is provided on (public) transport elsewhere and we will continue doing so…but the debt burden on the government is ever increasing. We need to take a fresh look at the locked up resources and figure out how to use it (land) more productively to address the issue (of debt and subsidy),” Mr Bandyopadhyay said. He refused to accept that the land was leased out at a cheaper rate. “The market is deflated at the moment. We got the best price available in this time for the land that we are unlocking to generate resources,” Mr. Bandyopadhyay said.