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Development flurry leaves New Town unimpressed

KOLKATA, 26 APRIL: New roads are being constructed while dilapidated ones are being repaired with added urgency in the remoter areas of Rajarhat New Town Assembly Constituency. But residents are less than impressed by the sudden flurry of activity; the projects that should have been taken up years ago are now being initiated only to bag votes, they say.
The roads in Baliguri in Rajarhat-Newtown Assembly constituency, a Red bastion, gave nightmares to even cyclists a month ago. “The swank roads that we see now are there only because of the elections. The insecure government is trying to please us,” said Mr Akhtar Ali Mollah, a resident of Baliguri.
“The government took away our land and turned farmers into ragpickers. Housing minister Mr Gautam Deb claims that he has given us a better life. If that is so, why did he choose to contest from Dum Dum?” Mr Mollah asks. And then answers his own question ~ if Mr Deb had contested from Rajarhat-New Town, not one farmer in the area would have voted for him and he knew that, he says.
Baliguri is also the place where 79-year-old Ramkrishna Mondal had committed suicide after being duped out of his land last year.
When this reporter tried to speak to some women residents, Jainuddin Gazi, convicted in two murder cases, including that of Trinamul worker Khejar Ali, killed a day before the last Lok Sabha poll, came rushing and intervened in a bid to stop the women from speaking their mind. He said: “We are very happy after the construction of megacity started. Earlier we used to wear lungis, now since cars enter our area, we are always dressed in good clothes.” The women, unable to keep quiet, declared him insane and Mrs Meena Gazi (74), said: “Our husbands had many options earlier. They used to work in the field and then if they wanted could go to the city for work. After farming in the area was hit, prices of rice and vegetables have gone up immensely.”
“For the last 20 years, we could not vote. The CPI-M supporters used to tell us that ***mashi don’t go out in the sun. We have already voted for you,” said Mrs Amina Mondal. “We will vote now and will vote sensibly,” said another woman.
Interestingly, Hyder, a former CPI-M supporter and touted as a terror in the region, said: “I have been a supporter of CPI-M for 15 years. But it has destroyed us. For years, goons like Tutun Gazi, Gour mastan and Louise mastan had terrorise the people but not anymore.” He also screened a documentary on Rajarhat land acquisition ~ Their homes on our land ~ for the people. Road repair and construction is also on in Methopara, Hatiara-Dhankal and Nowpara.

Soma Basu

Soma Basu

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