In an unprecedented turn of event all the 83 stalls erected during the annual Mati Utsav (Earth Festival) by the Public Works Department this year in Birudiha near Panagarh, barely 13 Km from Durgapur, were destroyed and the materials looted. Mati Utsav has been a dream project of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and she herself inaugurated the first Mati Utsav in the Lal Baba Ground of Panagarh adjacent to Durgapur in 2013.
The matter came to light when locals in Birudiha village adjacent to Panagarh informed the matter to the state Public Works Department a couple of days ago. The Executive Engineer, PWD, Mr Asit Saha, lodged an FIR with the Kanksa PS. Mr Saha said: “The bricks, poles, partisans and the roof material have been stolen allegedly by miscreants and the total cost of the materials worth at least is Rs 10 lakh.”
In the first Mati Utsav of 3013, artisans, craftsmen, performers had camped in the festival ground for a week, which continued in 2014 too. The ground holding the structures however was left unguarded after the week-long festival ended.
This year the construction erected spending nearly Rs 1 crore was made permanent to house the festival every year.
A Trinamool Congress supporter was arrested and the elected Panchayat Samiti Sabhapati from the Trinamool Congress interrogated by police in connection with the mass theft of infrastructure material erected for the Mati Utsav in Panagarh.
The police, on inquiry found that Horimoy Patra, the contractor who was assigned to help dismantle four stalls causing disturbance to the Haldia-Barauni underground pipeline had been selling the stall-equipments to the locals.
Eighty pieces of tiles used as roof cover were recovered from Horimoy’s house. He was arrested today. Patra has been a prominent Trinamool Congress supporter in the locality. Police also suspect that the Sabhapati of Kanksa Panchayat Samiti, Mrs Purnima Bauri might be involved in the indiscriminate theft of the materials.
Several stolen materials were visible in her courtyard. She will be interrogated, the police said. Also, the SP, Burdwan, Mr S M H Meerza said: “We are looking for another gangster Sheikh Nuriddin, involved in the offence.”
Locals alleged that out of fear they hesitated to bring this unprecedented kind of theft under the notice of the police because all those involved are close to the ruling party.
CPI(M) has earlier alleged involvement of Trinamool Congress activists in this act of theft. However Trinamool sources denied any such allegation and said that police is investigating into the matter and anyone involved will be brought to justice even if he or she belongs to Trinamool Congress.