Mayor Subrata Mukherjee’s sudden decision to drop the two 20-million-gallon water-treatment plants at Palta — and, thus, save Rs 30 crore — may cost the city more dearly, say Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) officials.
The decision may compound the city’s water problems, they feel, despite admitting that the cash-strapped CMC does not really have the wherewithal to push the two projects through.
“The mayor on Thursday asked the engineers of the project and the CMC’s development section to drop plans for the fourth and the fifth units at Palta,” admitted member, mayor-in-council (water supply), Sovan Chatterjee. “The city will face a serious shortage of filtered water in the near future if these two units are shelved permanently,” he said, adding that it appeared the likeliest possibility now.
A substantial amount has “already” been spent on the construction of in-take jetties and refurbishing the supply-lines at Palta, Chatterjee admitted. A section of civic officials says the mayor’s decision may have been prompted less by cash-crunch fears than by a desire to put the brakes on Chatterjee’s handling of funds. “He has channelised a chunk of the investment into supply of water into his own area,” a senior engineer pointed out, explaining the mayor’s logic. The mayor had allotted Rs 200 crore for the Palta waterworks, refurbishment of the 62-inch mains between Barrackpore and Tallah and for setting up six booster stations.