After Kalighat, Kidderpore, Tollygunge and Galiff Street, the state transport department is all set to lease out land lying unused at the Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) bus depots at Taratala, Thakurpukur and Garia to generate revenue to revive the five sick state transport undertakings.
The cash-strapped government has already leased out a huge area of unutilised land at the four tram depots at Kalighat, Tollygunge, Kidderpore and Galiff Street. The CSTC used to own the four depots.
“We have decided to extend the deadline for the tender bid for private entrepreneurs willing to buy the land lying at the three CSTC depots on the basis of lease. Twelve bighas of land at CTC’s Belgacchia tram depot is all set to be given to a private company soon,” a senior official of the transport department said.
The transport department has already earned around Rs 181 crore after leasing out a huge plot of 241 cottahs at Tollygunge tram depot to a private developer for 99 years for commercial use.
“The cost of the Tollygunge land was well above the reserve price. There was a difference of around Rs 30 crore between the highest and second highest bidders for this plot. The third bidder had quotes less than the reserve price,” the official said requesting anonymity.
The CTC land at the Belgachhia tram depot will be leased out to a premier real estate agency-cum-property developer soon. The company will set up housing complexes at the site. Housing and commercial complexes will also come up on the three CSTC bus depots at Taratala, Thakurpukur and Garia.
Of these, the department hopes to make good money from the Garia and Thakurpukur plots. The leasing out of the Tollygunge depot’s excess land has acted as a huge morale booster for the transport department that had been trying since 2013 to earn money out of the surplus land at the depots in order to revive the transport undertakings, mainly CTC and CSTC.
The transport department got Rs 75 lakh per cottah from the Tollygunge land plot. An affordable luxury complex will come up on the Tollygunge depot land and the apartments are likely to be between 1,200 and 1,800 square feet.
According to a senior official of the transport department at Paribahan Bhaban, a big chunk of money from leasing out these plots will be spent on the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for the employees CTC and CSTC who will be given the option of early retirement.
In 2011, after taking over charge as the chief minister, the Mamata Banerjee government had threatened to stop financial aid, including salary subsidies to the five transport undertakings.
During the Left Front regime, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government had also engaged UK-based DFID to prepare a revival package for the five sick transport corporations. It had also recommended early retirement (ER) to revive the sick units.
The state government gives around Rs 600 crore every year for the monthly salary of more than 18,000 employees of these corporations.