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Pay a fee for civic rule flout

Drawing a ‘fine’ line between civic crime and punishment, the state government has decided to empower the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) to make errant citizens pay for flouting the rules.

Municipal affairs department officials said on Thursday that some new rules have been framed under the West Bengal Municipal Corporation Bill, 2002, passed by the Assembly during the budget session.

Under the proposed rules, citizens will have to cough up a fine, ranging between Rs 500 and Rs 2,500, for violating a variety of civic laws, both in the city and the districts. Specific offences carry a six-month imprisonment clause along with the cash penalty.

“We have identified 57 types of offences and fixed the amount of cash penalty and/or imprisonment accordingly. We intend to take more stringent action in case the offender refuses to pay the fine,’’ officials said.

Offences identified by the municipal affairs department include conducting business without a licence, failure to clear civic dues, running commercial establishments and factories without licences, illegal drainage connections, non-compliance with municipal commission orders and changes in land-use without necessary permission (see box).

Municipal affairs and urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said: “We want to restore discipline at all levels. Citizens will have to abide by the municipal rules… We have framed rules to take penal action against corrupt municipal employees, officers and also councillors. There are provisions in the Municipal Act for punishment of corrupt and errant municipal staff. So why should citizens who flout the rules be spared'”

The fine flow, of course, is expected to help the cash-starved municipal bodies boost their income. And officials insist that the new rules will help reduce corruption at various levels of the civic administration.

“In the absence of strict rules and penal measures, a section of citizens never bothered to follow municipal rules and regulations. They have been carrying on illegal activities with the help of a section of civic employees and councillors. It is time to put an end to this malpractice. Punitive action will definitely help improve the situation, since it will act as a serious deterrent for civic offenders,” officials said.

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