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The Terror of 'Syndicate Raj' in Bengal

In places like New Town, Rajarhat, Behala, Hooghly, Howrah, Burdwan, Salt Lake, North 24 Parganas where construction is going on, this racket is much more active

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:July 4, 2017, 4:38 PM IST
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The Terror of 'Syndicate Raj' in Bengal
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Kolkata: To any real estate developer in Bengal, big or small, the word ‘syndicate’ stands for terror. Having strong political connections in the ruling Trinamool Congress, these syndicate members, apart from forcibly supplying inferior quality construction materials, demand money from builders, which no one can say no to. Every day the government receives complaints from across the state, but the ‘syndicate raj’ seems to be continuing unabated.

In places such as New Town, Rajarhat, Behala, Hooghly, Howrah, Burdwan, Salt Lake, North 24 Parganas where construction is going on, this racket is much more active.

While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying hard to curb this menace, the “syndicate” seems to be getting stronger with every passing day. Mamata had asked party leaders to take action against these "hooligans" but she was in for a shock when the names of several Trinamool functionaries cropped up in this racket.

On July 3, 2016, the CM had ordered the Director General of Police to initiative a massive crackdown against those associated with the syndicate. She urged the police not to hesitate in taking action even if Trinamool leaders were found to be involved. Several people, including TMC councillor Anindya Chattopadhyay, were arrested for allegedly extorting money from a ‘relative’ of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

CPI (M) Lok Sabha MP Md Salim said, “Trinamool Congress leaders are patronising goons of the syndicate. Forget about other leaders, the Chief Minister’s own brothers are involved in the syndicate racket. These people are asking for protection money and the real estate developers are in a state of shock.”

It May Hurt Didi’s Investment Pitch

Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India-Bengal (CREDAI-Bengal) feels that “syndicate raj” is sending a wrong message to the investors. A large numbers of builders in India and abroad expressed their concern over “syndicate-politician” nexus. For example, China has decided to invest 750 billion dollar over the next three years globally. including massive investments in Bengal, but “difficult” business atmosphere means the future of many of these projects is uncertain.

Recently, Chinese Consul General in Kolkata, Ma Zhanwu, urged the state government to ensure conducive atmosphere for investments.

Speaking to News18, President of CREDAI-Bengal, Nandu Belani, said, “The government should take stern action against syndicate raj. Builders are worried in doing business. The government needs to act now otherwise the situation will go out of control.”

Pradip Kumar Chopra of real estate developer PS Group said the CM is working tirelessly to bring in investments but the “syndicate” is a big hurdle. “This racket should end immediately because it is sending a wrong signal to the investors. I think the CM’s her ‘Biswa Bangla’ effort will suffer.”

Around Rs 2,50,253.74 crores of business announcements, expressions of interest and investment proposals were received at the Bengal Global Business Summit in 2016. Many feel the CM should personally look into the matter to make sure the investors don’t desert Bengal.

How A Scheme For Jobless Youths Went Awry

Syndicate is a group of unemployed youths, allegedly backed by ruling party, operating mainly in those areas in Bengal that are witnessing a realty boom. These youths use muscle power and political connections and force contractors and real estate developers to buy inferior building materials from them at a premium. This racket has now became a bane for Mamata Banerjee who is trying hard to create a healthy atmosphere for investors.

The syndicate problem allegedly started in 1995, when the Left Front government began acquiring land for the Rajarhat Township near Salt Lake, Kolkata. The Land and Land Revenues Ministry had issued a notice, asking for all land and water bodies in the area to be acquired. The land acquisition process continued till late 2000. This has left more than 3 lakh poor families, mainly farmers, landless in Rajarhat area.

Then massive construction work started in New Town-Rajarhat area. To please the angry farmers former Urban Development Minister Gautam Deb started a cooperative of unemployed youths who would supply construction material to real-estate companies. Since then the “syndicate raj” started flourishing across Bengal and has now become a headache for the government.
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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