Kolkata, July 6 (IANS) A day after the West Bengal government alleged that the erstwhile Left Front rulers had given flats to its leaders and ministers at throwaway prices, the opposition CPI-M countered Friday by saying the flats were sold to tenants to save the excess subsidies for maintenance.
"This government is saying that there have been irregularities regarding the sale of the Lower Income Group (LIG) and Middle Income Group (MIG) flats at rates lower than market prices. I want to say that there have been no irregularities. If they want they can engage CBI, Interpol, CID to conduct investigations," said former housing minister Gautam Deb.
Housing Minister Aroop Biswas Thursday had alleged in the assembly that the flats were given to former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, current leader of opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra, and a host of other ministers and LF leaders for a pittance.
"The idea to sell the government flats was first put up by housing minister Hemanta Basu in the 1960s during the United Front regime. Later on, it was endorsed by the Siddhartha Shankar Ray (former chief minister) regime. During my tenure as housing minister, I had discussed the matter in the assembly and there were no dissenting voices," Deb said.
Furnishing data, he said that the government income out of the rented flats were near about Rs.2 crore whereas the expenditure to maintain those flats was more than Rs.10 crore.
"The government had to give a huge subsidy of near around eight crore. So we decided to sell those flats considering a principal of calculations which included evaluations of the cost borne by the state government to pay the taxes for those flats, the cost of maintenance, price of the land when the flat was rented out and several other calculations," said Deb.
He said everything was done legally and neither the Comptroller and Auditor General, or the standing committee of the housing ministry or any other government agency found any wrongdoing.
Deb countered Biswas' claim of irregularities by questioning the total amount of property the minister is currently having.
"In 2006, Biswas had around Rs.16 lakh, but in 2011 in the affidavit he had filed before the assembly polls, it was shown that he had over Rs.75 lakh of property. So we need to see how he had made such a huge property. We have also seen that there are two criminal cases pending against him."
Asked for a reaction on Deb's allegation, Biswas said: "Whatever he said is there in the internet domain. Anybody can access the affidavits. I don't want to comment further on remarks by a person who is frustrated and alienated from the masses".