Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday directed the land and land reforms department to complete the process of issuing pattas (long-term settlement rights) to the residents of 300-odd refugee colonies across the state at the earliest.
“All those refugee colonies that have been identified, give (patta) them all. All of them should be given patta,” the chief minister instructed the land and land reforms secretary, Smaraki Mahapatra, during a programme to distribute patta to nearly 4,000 landless people, at Netaji Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday.
Sources said that the initiative to give patta to those living in the refugee colonies in Bengal began ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in a bid by Trinamul to stymie the growth of the BJP back then in those areas.
“The BJP had won two Lok Sabha seats (of the 18 it won in 2019) — Bongaon and Ranaghat — only because the Matua community had voted largely in favour of the saffron camp. Now that the BJP has again begun talking about the citizenship issue to woo the refugees, the government is trying to thwart the process by offering freehold land rights, a key document to prove one’s domicile,” said a bureaucrat.
According to senior Nabanna officials, the state government has completed distributing pattas to the residents of 94 refugee colonies on state government land. But the process has halted in the case of 237 colonies, which came up on private and central government land.
“The process of issuing pattas to the residents of colonies on central government land had started but it was halted midway since the railways opposed the move, citing that the state cannot give such rights to those on plots owned by central agencies such as the railways. Now, it seems that the process of issuing pattas on central government land will start again,” said a bureaucrat.
Mamata on Wednesday again said that no forcible acquisition would be allowed in Bengal even if it is for the national highways or railways.
“I heard that efforts are on to acquire land forcefully for flyovers or national highways. In Pandaveswar, a similar effort was made. I am making it clear that nobody will be bulldozed without giving him or her proper rehabilitation and compensation,” the chief minister said.
Sources in Nabanna said that the chief minister raised the issue to send a message to rural people after Opposition parties campaigned that people were being evicted forcibly in Deocha-Pachami in Birbhum district for the state government’s proposed coal mine.
“The state government has announced a huge compensation for land losers of Deocha-Pachami. The chief minister has made it clear that she is against forcible land acquisition and it is not being done in Deocha-Pachami,” said a bureaucrat.