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Hint at SMC administrator

- Govt could dissolve civic body: Deb

Siliguri, Oct. 2: North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb has said if the Left Front and the Congress do not allow the smooth functioning of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, the state government may appoint an administrator to run the civic body.

He, however, said such a decision would not be taken before Durga Puja.

“Not only has the Congress failed to run the civic board and meet the aspirations of the people of Siliguri, the party representatives at the SMC are resorting to contradictory moves for minor political interests,” said the minister today.

He added that the Congress was “indifferent” to the needs of the people.

“We cannot afford to be lackadaisical and tolerate such moves that ultimately affect municipal services. If the Congress continues to remain indifferent to people’s needs, the state government will not sit idle. It can take steps like dissolving the board and appointing one or more administrators to run the civic body by invoking Section 60 of the West Bengal Municipal Corporation Act, 2006,” Deb said.

According to Section 60 of the Corporation Act, the state government has the power to dissolve a civic board for non-performance and depute a person or persons of its choice to run the body.

Deb, however, said the state would not take such a decision before the Durga Puja as it would cause inconvenience to the people.

“The Congress and the Left might not have any commitment towards the people but we cannot evade responsibilities like them. No steps that can hamper work at the SMC during Puja days or before that would be taken by our party,” said Deb, who is also the Trinamul councillor of ward 17.

He added that Congress representatives were delaying important decisions of the SMC. “Decisions are taken at the members mayor-in-council meetings and are often endorsed by the mayor (from the Congress) who presides over them. But there have been instances when the same decisions have been placed before the board meetings and Congress councillors (who are not MMICs) have objected to them. This contradiction delays the implementation of important decisions and affects civic services,” said the minister.

Deb added that if the Congress members in the civic body remained “indifferent”, he would seek help from other departments to provide services to the people. “We have thought of utilising two vital government organs, the north Bengal development department and the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority to carry out tasks, which otherwise, are the responsibility of the civic body.”

Deb’s announcement that the state government might appoint an administrator to run the municipality has led to speculation among political observers in Siliguri.

“It seems that the Trinamul Congress is not inclined to have an early civic poll and the party is banking on the performance of an administrator that can be shown to the people to bridge the gap created in the past three years,” said an observer.

Trinamul has been a Congress ally since 2009. The party joined the Congress in the civic board last year.

“The Left Front would surely make the appointment of an administrator an agenda in the civic polls. To counter it, Trinamul needs to offer quality services to the people by properly guiding the administrator (if an official is appointed by the state government) to gain the people’s confidence,” the observer said.

Yesterday, Trinamul councillors and MMICs had said that they had started repairing roads and cleaning up the town. “All of us are working across the town along with civic officials and staff who have stood by us and are assisting us in delivering our responsibilities,” said Krishna Pal, the MMIC (PWD).