On January 27, the Home and Hill Affairs Department of West Bengal has written to Police Departments of eight districts to provide assistance to the district magistrates (DMs) in removing all ‘unauthorised’ temples and shrines from the public places. The DMs of Darjeeling, Alipurduar, Coochbehar, Kalimpong, East Midnapore, North 24 Parganas and East Burdwan were asked to initiate action against the ‘unauthorised’ structures on January 27 last year.
The order reads, “Director General & Inspector General of Police, West Bengal – with the request to instruct the Commissioner of Police and Superintendent of Police, having jurisdiction in the district mentioned above for assisting the respective District Magistrates, in the matter.”
The DMs were asked to submit a report of the action taken against the unauthorised structures to the state home ministry by February 16, 2022. The deadline mentioned in the order is approaching, which could be the reason for a fresh order to the state Police for assisting the DMs.
The 2010 order that directed a survey of unauthorised structures
Notably, the DMs were asked to initiate action based on a government order issued in April 2010. In the order, it was stated, “The Government will not allow any new unauthorised constructions in public places. The State, Government Departments, and Local Bodies such as Panchayats and Municipalities will be alert enough to detect and stop such constructions at the earliest stage before the structure gains public acceptance. The demolition, if it is necessary, will be the responsibility of the Department owning the land.”
The govt of WB had ordered to remove the structures unless there were compelling reasons for not doing so. The order also asked the govt departments and local bodies to survey the public places to identify the illegal structures. The report was to be submitted on July 31, 2010.
It further added that the survey had to be conducted while keeping in mind the location, age of the structure and the extent to which the structure was causing obstruction in the movement of vehicles or pedestrians. Further, the complaint the locals received were to be taken into account as well. The order had asked the officials to see if there was a possibility to relocate the structure to land nearby and also the implications in maintaining law and order if the structure was removed.