The city civic authorities on Wednesday turned off the filtered water connections of more than a dozen large central and state government establishments, including a hospital, for defaulting on taxes.
Justifying the first such major move in recent years, Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) officials said this was a pre-Puja bid to improve tax collection.
Things did not go smoothly for the civic body staff. They faced stiff resistance from students of a school when the officials tried to disconnect the water supply of the institution.
Twenty-one establishments that had not paid their taxes since April this year had been shortlisted for punitive action by the CMC’s water supply department and the total dues amount to more than Rs 24.55 lakh.
The CMC realised Rs 11 lakh on Wednesday by turning off filtered water connections for around 10 hours to the establishments. These include the MLAs’ hostel, state guest house, food & supply department’s headquarters on Free School Street, the staff quarters of Jadavpur police station, Institute of Animal Health, the ESI hospital and its staff quarters at Sealdah and the central government’s Ordnance Factory in Cossipore.
Almost all of these establishments have assured municipal commissioner Debashis Som that they will pay up their dues by September 30. “We are taking punitive action only against those premises that did not pay their water charges even after getting notices,” mayor Subrata Mukherjee said.
According to chief engineer (water supply) Dibyendu Roychaudhury, there are two metered connections to the ESI hospital premises at Sealdah, and the outstanding from the hospital and the staff quarters amounted to Rs 1.03 lakh and Rs 65,000, respectively. The outstanding from the Ordnance Factory was Rs 3.34 lakh.
Other major defaulters whose taps are likely to turn dry if they do not pay up are Tollygunge Club, the Jorasanko campus of Rabindra Bharati University, Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers, Barrackpore Cantonment and Sambhunath Pandit Hospital.
Outstanding water charges from these establishments range from a mere Rs 3,050 (Tollygunge Club) to Rs 7.43 lakh (Sambhunath Pandit Hospital).
Engineers of the CMC’s water supply department were gheraoed by students of Welland Gouldsmith School, at 288, B.B. Ganguly Street, when the civic officers tried to snap the school’s filtered water connection.