SRIHIR BHATTACHARJEE, chairman, South Dum Dum Municipality, met readers of The Telegraph in his Nager Bazar office, at Dum Dum, last week. Participants included Tulsi Kanta Nandi, Dwijen Mukherjee, Sudip Banerjee, Subir Sen, Saradindu Bikash Das, Bimal Bhattacharya, Sambhu De, Samar Ganguly, Basudeb Goswami, Mithu Das and Tapas Kar
Sudip Banerjee: What steps have you taken to improve healthcare facilities'
Earlier, we had only a maternity home but now, we have a full-fledged hospital, with outdoor and indoor facilities. It is a 30-bed hospital with all facilities, except scanning. We have six health centres. Our men regularly spray mosquito oil. We have an arrangement for free blood tests in our drive against malaria. You will be glad to know that the World Bank kept a watch on 127 municipalities and corporations with regard to steps taken by them to maintain public health. The bank selected the six best, and South Dum Dum is among them. Again, you will be proud to know that the European Commission is drawing up a special list on the six best and trying to help them. I should also mention that in our municipality, child mortality is barely one or two per 1,000. Similarly, the death rate of pregnant women is five to six per 1,000. That is a negligible figure.
Samar Ganguly: The population of South Dum Dum saw a spurt after the creation of Lake Town and Bangur Avenue. But the sewerage system has not been upgraded to cope with it.
Bagjola canal is being excavated to improve the sewerage system. But that was creating problems for those who live close to the canal. The excavated silt was being dumped on their doorsteps, they complained. So, we have commissioned three pumps to drain the accumulated water out of Bangur Avenue. Similarly, we have asked the public health engineering department to clear the water that accumulates in Lake Town. Water from Sribhumi is pumped out into the Kestopur canal. However, in spite of all these efforts, water is accumulating in other areas, like Debendra Colony. To prevent waterlogging, the canals need to be excavated. This year, some excavation was conducted and the signals are not as grim as last year. However, both state and central governments need to work in tandem for an effective drainage system. Sadly, the role of the central government in desilting rivers like Vidyadhari is not at all satisfactory.
Basudeb Goswami: What role does the chairman-in-council play in allotment of funds' Is there any discrimination'
Usually, we disburse funds for development of a particular area going by the population of that ward. There is no question of discrimination.
Mithu Das: In South Dum Dum Municipality, the number of primary schools is appaling.
There were nine government primary schools in our area. Now, there are five. There are several factors behind this. At present, with the increase of individual income, people are keener on sending their wards to English-medium schools than to government-run primary schools, where the medium of instruction is Bengali. As a result, some government-run primary schools were shut down and the teachers transferred elsewhere. The vacant buildings were allotted to schools which needed them. In addition, I must mention that teachers of government schools tend to take things very easy as they know their job is secure.
Tapas Kar: We are the residents of Vivekananda Pally. We want to know whether our Matri Sadan is under the South Dum Dum Municipality.
People believe it belongs to the municipality. In reality, it is run by a trustee board. The local panchayat only gave the land. So, it cannot be taken over.