The Darjeeling Municipality: Swift supply?
Darjeeling, Jan. 8: The Darjeeling Municipality has launched a tatkal scheme to provide immediate water connection to individuals and commercial establishments with a view to generate funds for the cash-starved civic body.
“We have started tatkal scheme to ensure that there is no delay in providing water connections”, said Amalkanti Ray, the chairman of the board of administrators of the municipality. He is also the subdivisional officer of Darjeeling (Sadar). Those seeking connection must have a sanctioned plan of their building and should also have cleared taxes.
Under the scheme, a domestic user has to pay Rs 35,000 for a connection, while commercial establishments are being charged Rs 75,000.
The move aims to generate revenue for the municipality apart from reducing paper work and time for getting a connection. “The water works department needs around Rs 19 lakh at present for renovation and maintenance of the distribution system. The department has, however, not received a single penny from the state,” said Kiran Tamang, the assistant engineer of the department of the municipality, on the need to introduce the scheme.
Till date, 17 applications have been cleared. Except one commercial application, the rest are for domestic purpose, said Tamang.
The civic body usually charges Rs 17,000 for a normal connection. “There were complaints that people had not received connections even after waiting for nine years,” said another official.
According to the civic officials, distribution of water in Darjeeling has been made more regular. “Last year there was a time when we could provide water only after 26 days to every household. We are now providing water regularly every five to six days,” said Tamang.
Darjeeling needs around 50,000 gallons of water everyday. “The storage capacity at North and South Senchel Lake (from where water is distributed to the town) stands at 20 million gallons and 13.5 million gallons. The problem, however, lies in the fact there is not enough sources for Senchel,” said Tamang.
The municipality has claimed that it has been able to raise the water level at the lake to 34 feet — an increase of eight feet from the highest level reached in the past three years — largely by better management.
A resident of the town said even though the supply was erratic, it was worth getting a connection. “Water supply is slowly improving and during monsoon one will not have to buy water if there is a municipality connection. Moreover, getting a connection has always been very difficult in Darjeeling. If the supply becomes good after the Balasun project is completed, it will be of great help.”
While the tatkal scheme may have made the process of getting a connection hassle-free, a poster in the name of “janta” (public) has appeared in town saying that even the poor people have right to get drinking water.
The officials said the municipality had set up 400 public taps in town for those who cannot pay. Ray said he had formed a three-member inquiry committee to find out who were behind the plastering of the poster.