The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Rs 400-cr facelift for city turning new leaf

Calcutta, Sept. 17: A beautiful face can be an asset if you are wooing moneybags, feels Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

With foreign funds set to flow in and more being courted, the state government has drawn up a three-year, Rs 400-crore master plan to spruce up the city, making it cleaner and greener.

The chief minister has told senior bureaucrats to involve all government departments and agencies in the project, Writers' Buildings officials said. The ban on hand-drawn rickshaws was just one step towards this.

'From reducing auto emission to checking tree-felling and filling up of wetlands, we are laying special emphasis on improving the environment,' said environment secretary Asim Barman.

'We have issued orders to all departments and agencies engaged in development to keep in mind the environmental aspects while implementing any project.'

Officials of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority, which has drawn up the master plan, said the environment department will monitor air, water and waste water management and preservation of wetlands and provide technical help to other departments.

The municipal affairs and urban development departments will take care of solid waste management, rainwater harvesting, development of parks and gardens, construction of public toilets and waste water treatment.

The irrigation department will clean the canals; the forest department will plant trees.

Other projects include developing the city and Howrah riverfronts, checking pollution of the Hooghly, popularising solar energy and converting electricity-powered crematoria to gas-fired ones.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation and Howrah Municipal Corporation will put into effect some of the schemes individually and in collaboration with the other agencies and departments.

Environmentalists, NGOs, industrial houses and chambers of commerce, too, will be drafted in. The state pollution control board will act as overseer.

'Government agencies implement schemes, but for want of a master plan or a comprehensive plan, it's all done in a scattered way,' urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said. 'There is no co-ordination between the departments. We have prepared the comprehensive plan so that all projects are implemented in a planned way.'

The plan will be funded by the budget allocations of the department concerned, central assistance, foreign donors and contributions from industrial houses.

'We have submitted some schemes to the Centre seeking financial assistance. It includes development and preservation of the east Calcutta wet-lands, checking pollution of the Hooghly, riverfront beautification and improvement of solid waste management. We are also taking funds from France to improve solid waste management,' an official said.

'The chief minister is dissatisfied with the poor initiatives on afforestation. He believes more effort should be directed towards planting trees because a huge number has been felled to build roads,' a source said.

A bill to make felling a punitive offence is to be introduced in the next session of the Assembly. The government has also framed various Acts, rules and regulations to check pollution.

Yet, officials said, the effort to enforce rules has been lacking. For instance, plastic bags and cups are banned, but they are used everywhere. Old vehicles continue to emit black smoke; and few obey the rules regulating felling and filling of wetlands.

'We are laying stress on enforcement of rules. We are preparing an action plan to strengthen vigil to ensure that everyone obeys the law,' Barman said.

Email This Page