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Road sign with logo designed by Mamata Banerjee pulled down by Odisha govt

Interestingly, this is the second time this month that a Biswa Bangla road sign, painted in blue and white, the official colours of the Bengal government, has triggered dispute between the state and its neighbours.

kolkata Updated: Aug 29, 2018 17:27 IST
Koushik Dutta
Koushik Dutta
Hindustan Times
Biswa Bangla,Odisha,West Bengal
The West Bengal government road sign at Udaipur shortly before Balasore district administration brought it down on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

The Balasore district administration on Tuesday demolished a tall road sign set up by West Bengal government at Udaipur, saying it was illegally installed 20 metres inside Odisha’s territorial jurisdiction.

The sign, carrying Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s favourite ‘Biswa Bangla’ logo that she designed in 2013, was set up in July at Udaipur near Digha, Bengal’s most popular seaside destination in East Midnapore district.

Though the Balasore district administration claimed that the spot in Udaipur where the sign was put up is located in Odisha, the claim was earlier questioned by Bengal officials. Administrative meetings also took place but the issue was not resolved.

Interestingly, this is the second time this month that a Biswa Bangla road sign, painted in blue and white, the official colours of the Bengal government, has triggered dispute between the state and its neighbours.

On August 3, BJP supporters in Jharkhand stopped labourers from Bengal from painting the Massanjore dam blue and white. They also defaced the road sign put up by the Bengal government near the dam which connects the two states. The Jharkhand administration said local people reacted because Bengal had no right to put up the sign or paint the dam since both were outside its territory.

On Tuesday, Balasore district officials used a crane to pull down the giant sign that welcomed travellers to Bengal. A huge contingent of Odisha police was present at the spot. “We have demolished the unauthorised structure because it was erected on our land,” said Nilu Mohapatra, Balasore district sub-collector.

Digha administrative officials rushed to Udaipur with some policemen to stop the demolition but could do nothing. The sign was bulldozed in their presence.

“We requested Balasore district officials to settle the issue through discussion but they did not listen to us,” said Rashmi Kamal, district magistrate, East Midnapore. “We have informed the state administration,” she added.

Udaipur is located less than a kilometer from Digha. It is frequented by tourists who visit Digha.

Tuesday’s incident brought the Massanjore dam issue back into news since it had led to a political debate.

Sent by the Bengal government to the dam, a group of contract labourers were stopped and driven away by angry BJP workers who did not want the structure to be painted blue and white. The BJP workers also removed the Bengal government’s official logo.

The incident raised a fresh controversy and triggered an exchange of words between BJP and Trinamool. leaders.

Commissioned in 1955, the hydro-electric power generation project on Mayurakshi river is located about 30 km from Suri town, the district headquarters of Birbhum district in Bengal. The Bengal irrigation department maintains the dam and monitors release of water during monsoon.

“What BJP did was unwarranted,” said Bengal irrigation minister Soumen Mahapatra.

“The dam might be maintained by Bengal but it is situated in Jharkhand. The colour scheme was being changed purely for political reasons. Jharkhand residents objected to it. A river dam cannot be the subject of politics,” Sayantan Basu, Bengal BJP general secretary, said at that time.

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 17:27 IST