The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Private role in civic services

The state government said on Friday it wanted to privatise water supply, conservancy and tax collection in civic bodies.

Urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya said at Writers’ Buildings that the government was contemplating handing over water supply, and the operation and maintenance of different waterworks in the city.

For starters, a French company will take up a Rs 2-crore pilot project in Salt Lake to instal water meters in some wards of of the township. A delegation, led by Herve Barbaret, commercial counsellor, Embassy of France, met Bhattacharya on Friday afternoon and expressed its keenness in water supply operations and maintenance, and even collection of water taxes.

Bhattacharya said the government would, however, ensure that the poor are not affected. “Even if civic services are privatised, we will ensure that the poor are protected. There will be strict monitoring,” he said.

Bhattacharya criticised the present system of depending entirely on a section of the tax collectors. Self-help groups and NGOs could easily collect the taxes, he felt. “Also, this will generate jobs. We believe our revenue earnings will go up if we go private in some areas,” he added.

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