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Deb accuses Cong mayor of failure

Siliguri, Sept. 2: North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb today slammed the Congress mayor of Siliguri Gangotri Dutta and the civic board for their alleged failure to provide services to the city.

Deb, the chief guest at the annual general meeting of the INTTUC-backed Siliguri Poura Karmachari Samiti, said: “Over the past three years, this mayor has been at the helm of affairs at the civic board. But unfortunately we have never seen any pragmatic approach from her end to provide quality services to the people of Siliguri.

Property tax worth crores are due but no steps have been taken to collect them. According to our estimate, the civic body would have earned at least Rs 20 crore each year if the tax had been realised on time.”

Dutta became the Siliguri mayor in 2009 after the Congress took over the civic body. In July 2011, a new board was formed jointly by Trinamul and the Congress with 15 members from each party and Dutta continued as the mayor.

“The mayor keeps saying there is paucity of funds and manpower in the SMC. But sanctioned posts are lying vacant for years. The mayor and her board have failed to furnish us with details of the number of vacant posts, qualification of prospective candidates and other data to expedite recruitment process,” Deb said.

The minister added that he had asked for a status report from the mayor in April but it had not been provided yet.

“Why is it that the mayor could not find time to prepare and submit the status report to us? The solid waste management system is in a pitiable state. Although the mayor made foreign trips to bring in private firms for recycling and disposal of waste, nothing has been implemented,” Deb said.

Deb sought help from the 200-odd staff of the civic body.

“We seek your help to see that the SMC revives. I would also request the deputy mayor, MMICs and the councillors (from Trinamul) to take up these issues with the mayor and ask her to function with a progressive stance and not simply sit and let things turn worse. Three years have passed and the mayor cannot deny her responsibilities,” the minister said.

He added that the Left that had run the SMC for 15 years should be given due importance. “The board must listen to the constructive criticisms and plans articulated by the councillors from the Opposition.” Observers said the move to criticise the Congress was Trinamul’s strategy to disassociate itself. “A couple of years are left before the civic polls... and it is unlikely that there would be an alliance. Trinamul is trying to prove that it is because of the mayor and the Congress councillors that the civic board has not performed well.”

Mayor Gangotri Datta said: “Whatever the minister said today was a political speech. Everyone is aware of our financial condition and that we are still providing the best possible services. We would prefer not to comment further.”