|Gautam Deb and Shankar Malakar
Oct. 3: Congress leader Shankar Malakar today lashed out at Trinamul minister Gautam Deb, alleging that he was trying to undermine the Siliguri Municipal Corporation by getting work done through the state machinery.
“The north Bengal development minister (Deb) is trying to settle political scores by passing instructions to the district administration to carry out work which is supposed to be done by the civic authorities,” said Malakar.
The current reason for the Congress’s anger revolves round the disposal of garbage. Trucks commissioned by the SMC have stopped collecting garbage because their owners have not been paid by the civic body. The dues are as huge as Rs 2 crore.
No one in the SMC is ready to speak on record on why the truck owners were not paid. Sources in the civic body said the main reason was a funds crunch.
The SMC had failed to get its budget passed earlier this year. From April to September, it has been under a cash crunch, the sources said.
No money has been released by the state government after the Congress-run civic body claimed last month that it had passed the budget.
While the Congress councillors are stuck in this financial jam, Deb today said the Darjeeling district magistrate would be told to organise trucks to clear the town of garbage.
This move incensed Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president.
Deb, who spoke to the media at the PWD inspection bungalow this morning, said: “We don’t understand why the Congress councillors are clinging to their posts when they cannot deliver even on their basic responsibilities. At a time when around 1,000 people have been tested positive with dengue, it is worrying to see tonnes of garbage piled up across the city.”
He added: “We have asked the district magistrate to seek funds from the state government. The money would be used to hire trucks and manpower to clear the garbage as the SMC cannot do it.” This arrangement would be in place till Chhat Puja in November.
Deb said the state would soon show-cause the civic board.
Mayor Gangotri Datta said: “It is unfortunate that no communication was made from the administration’s side on our requisition for 60-odd trucks. Instead, we have heard that the administration will itself do the job.”
“We will work under the district administration. We have been assured of regular payment,” said Bishnu Sarkar, who represents the truck owners.
“There has been no information from the SMC yet that our dues would be paid,” he added.