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CMC slaps litter fee on puja pandals

Puja committees letting out kerbs and parks to food-stalls during the festival will have to share their income with the civic authorities. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) will realise its share in the form of additional cleaning charges and the conservancy department will collect the payment daily.

The minimum daily charges tentatively worked out by the conservancy department will be not less than Rs 50 for every four stalls. The CMC will table its decision at the meeting with the puja committees, convened by the commissioner of police at Lalbazar on Friday. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee will announce the decision the same afternoon.

The CMC is expected to realise about Rs 2 lakh daily. In five days, it will tot up to about Rs 10 lakh. “That sum will not meet the additional expenditure the CMC will incur to keep the city clean during the Pujas. Still, the system should be introduced from this year,” said Mukherjee. “During the Pujas, the CMC spends Rs 60,000 extra daily only to transport the trash generated by pandal-hoppers,” he pointed out.

“If the wages of the 4,000 additional labourers, required for the afternoon service near the pandals, are taken into account, the additional expenditure to keep the city clean during the Pujas will escalate to Rs 6 lakh daily,” said mayoral council member (conservancy) Rajib Deb.

“Of the 200-odd parks in the city, almost 80 per cent are used by puja organisers for commercial purposes,” said chief engineer (conservancy) Arun Sarkar.

According to assistant director (conservancy) Swapan Mahapatra, more than 1,000 community pujas are held in the city and almost all the puja committees let out vacant space available in the vicinity of their respective pandals. Pavements and parks are their first targets.

Some parks identified by the conservancy department include the Bijoygarh College Maidan, Jodhpur Park, Triangular Park and Deshapriya Park, in south Calcutta. The parks in central Calcutta are Park Circus, College Square, Md Ali Park, Santosh Mitra Square and Hedua. The parks in north Calcutta are Shyam Park, Tallah Park, Kumartuli Park, Naren Deb Square and the park on B.K. Pal Avenue.

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