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Trinamul Run Syndicate Suspends Work At Government's Water Supply Project

2015-06-14 06:10

The entrance of the Ranaghat water treatment plant. Picture by MANOJ BISWAS


Ranaghat, June 13: A syndicate run by some local Trinamul activists in Nadia’s Ranaghat has forced a Calcutta based water treatment company to suspend work at a state government’s mega water treatment project in the town since June 10 as its engineers refused to take the ‘filtering sand’ - a core ingredient of the filter plant, from the syndicate as they considered that it would be a sheer compromise with quality of the supplied water and could create health hazards.

GBC infrastructure private limited, which has been executing this Rupees 67-crore project under centre’s Urban infrastructure development scheme for small and medium town (UIDSSMT), has lodged a complaint at the Ranaghat police station on the same day after miscreants allegedly led by syndicate operator Govinda De, a local youth Trinamul leader and close aide of local Trinamul councilor Kosholdeb Bandopadhaya, barged inside the plant premise, ransacked a camp office and threatened the field engineers of dire consequence unless they allow him to supply the ‘filtering sand’ and pay Rupees five lakhs for a local club – “Ranaghat Thanapara cultural unit”, for which the company has already been forced to construct a club building incurring an expenditure of about Rupees 3-lakh.

In retaliation, some locals lodged a police complaint against three workers of the company for doing ‘unsocial’ activities inside

Partha Guha, Managing Director of GBC infrastructure private limited, said: “We have been forced to suspend the work under threat by syndicate as our workers are afraid of attack. We will never take the filtering sand from syndicate compromising with quality. We have also told this to local Trinamul MLA Partha Chatterjee, that if the syndicate forced we would opt for an honorable termination of the contract”

 MLA Partha Chatterjee, who is also chairman of Ranaghat Municipality, said: “Some problems cropped up with local youths which we are trying to settle. I have held a meeting with the company and told them not to compromise with quality and to start the work”.

However, despite assurance of local MLA, the company could not resume work at site on Saturday.

MD Partha Guha said: “The situation is not conducive. We will assess the situation on Monday and they decide to resume work”.

The ‘filtering sand’ is a special type of white silica sand, technically known as the ‘filter media’ which is layered in the filter house of the plant. But the requisite standard is not available in Bengal.

The syndicate operators became angry after the company brought the ‘filtering sand’ from Bihar, ignoring their demand to allow them to supply it.

“We brought the sand from Bihar as its size, angularity and hardness conforms the requisite standard to ensure proper filtering. This sand is the core element for water treatment with which quality of treated water is involved. The local sand has high sodium level along with other unwanted chemical and mineral components which are not good for health. So we decided to make no compromise despite the threat”, said company MD Partha Guha.

The company was assigned the job designing, construction and commissioning of Ranaghat’s 14.62 MLD (million liters per day) water supply project. The work was started in 2013 with an objective to supply water in 21 wards of Ranaghat civic areas by March 2016. The company at present executing similar water supply projects in Diamondharbour, Titagarh, Uluberia, Balurghat, Bhadreswar, Nabadweep, Kamarhati and Dhulian

Meanwhile, even after three days the police yet to initiate probe into the matter. An officer of Ranaghat police said: “We have received complaints from both side and the veracity of the complaints now being examined”.

Problem started after local councilor introduced his close aide Govinda to the company asking it to take materials from him, a company source said.

“It was at the behest local councilor Kosholdeb we were forced to take construction materials from the syndicate run by Govinda De at a price which is higher than market price. But we always told Govinda that we will never take the filtering sand from him, but he always insisted. His motive was to squeeze money from the company. He always kept us in pressure for which we even had to accept the demand for building their club – ‘Thanapara cultural unit’ for which we have so far spent around Rupees 3- lakhs. He increased the pressure on us further in April before the civic poll demanding that the company should complete the club building with furnished stone floor. In last week he pressed us with fresh demand of Rupees five lakhs from us, which we denied to pay. He led the miscreants inside the premise on June 10 and attacked us after we started bringing the filtering sand”, said a plant engineer Akash Biswas.

Both councilor Kosholdeb Bandopadhaya and Govinda De refuted the allegations. Kosholdeb said: “The Company telling lie. There was no question to supply filtering sand. It is true that the company agreed to construct the club building. So some members went inside only to request the officers to complete construction work as early as possible for the ensuing monsoon, else to pay the cost so that they could take up work. But they misbehaved”.

“Angry over their behavior the locals later lodged complaint about the unsocial activities of the company workers inside the premise”, Govinda said.

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