iconimg Monday, August 31, 2015

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Kolkata, November 29, 2013
The Trinamool board at KMC ordered the cancellation of all trade licences issued to various companies operating under the Saradha Group of Companies. Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said, “We are cancelling all 50 trade licences issued to different companies under Sudipta Sen’s Saradha Group of Companies operating in Kolkata.”

He said, “We received a lot of complaints regarding these companies under the Saradha Group of Companies umbrella and thus such a decision had been taken.”

According to licence department records, KMC issued around 42 trade licences to Saradha group of companies under the premises number 455 Diamond Harbour Road, Behala, Kolkata 34.

Congress councillor Prakash Upadhyay raised a storm at KMC House on May 23 after the Saradha scam unfolded in March over “unlawful” issuance of as many as 50 trade licences to Saradha group.

Upadhyay alleged that such issuance of trade licence under the same address is completely “illegal” and is raising serious questions about the integrity of the Trinamool board.

Refuting allegations of all sorts on any unlawful act, mayor Sovan Chatterjee infor med the House, “Our records have found that as many as 69 trade licences have been issued in the name of Sudipta Sen and out of these about 50 had been issued to Sudipta Sen of Saradha Group of companies.”

However, Chatterjee maintained that all such trade licences were issued during the Left Front regime and Trinamool board had only given renewal to those trade licences.

According to KMC Act 1980, it is not unlawful to issue more than one trade licence to the same person with same premises number as long as the nature of trade is different.

Civic records say all licences issued to Sudipta Sen of Saradha group of companies are appropriately issued with different nature of trades like Saradha Financial management Services Ltd, Saradha Tours and Travels Pvt Ltd, Saradha Reality India Ltd, Saradha Township Pvt Ltd, Saradha Promoters Pvt Ltd, Saradha Real Home Pvt Ltd, Saradha Agro Development Ltd etc.

Chatterjee asserted that as long as all papers required for issuance of trade licence or renewal is submitted to KMC authorities, there is no scope for any denial of issuance.

“KMC has no business in verifying the ulterior motive of any trade or business. It is not our job,” the city mayor said.

Sources in KMC’s licence department revealed that due to shortage of manpower, physical verification of the trade prior to issuance or renewal of trade licences as the norms suggest is not followed.

“We issue trade licences purely based on papers submitted by the person asking for such licence.

“No inspection is done with acute shortage of staff,” a senior official attached with the licence department said.

But civic officials agreed that there is no scope for any restriction on the numbers of trade licence issued to any person asking for different nature of trades, even from the same premises.