Mamata Banerjee has taken a keen interest in the renewal of trade licences, especially for traders operating from industrial estates in Kolkata. However, her once man-Friday mayor Sovan Chatterjee made it clear that her government would have to take the onus for any renewals, and obtain no objection certificates from the state fire and emergency services department.
According to KMC licence department records, renewal of nearly 2,500-3,000 trade licences has been put on hold in the last five years, due to the lack of fire department clearances.
“This decision is costing us Rs. 1 crore annually,” a senior licence department official told HT.
Chatterjee holds additional charge of the civic licence department and has not assigned task to any of his council members, in direct defiance of his political and administrative master.
Around 30,000 trade licences in the city have been put on hold since 2008-09, amounting to a loss of Rs. 55 crore the to civic exchequer.
At a meeting with the traders’ association at a small and medium scale industries programme, Mamata assured them of quick renewals of long pending trade licences from Trinamool Congress controlled KMC.
Accordingly, Mamata asked chief secretary Sanjoy Mitra to take the matter up with Kolkata municipal commissioner Khalil Ahmed urgently.
Ahmed called for a meeting at his chamber last month to meet the traders association, state fire and emergency services officials and officials from West Bengal Small Scale Industrial Development Corporation (WBSIDC).
Kolkata’s municipal commissioner and his team made it clear to visiting officials from Mamata Banerjee’s administration to give their ‘NOC’ in writing prior to insisting for any renewal of trade licences.
HT found that although the state government representatives had made verbal assurance for NOC but in writing they had made no such clear-cut statement taking the onus for such renewals.
“We are not issuing any renewal for trade licences in which the fire NOC is a mandatory criterion. State government has not made any such clear statement that would actually allow us to fulfil CM’s wish for renewals at least to the traders operating from the several industrial estates in Kolkata,” a senior licence department official told HT on condition of anonymity.