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Return gift for Howrah

Howrah is set to get Rs 105 crore for improving infrastructure, weeks after the chief minister shifted her office to the city across the Hooghly and the ruling party won the municipal polls there.

The state government is rolling out the return gift, promising to release funds for civic (see chart) and other work within three working days.

Municipal affairs and urban development minister Firhad Hakim told newly-elected Howrah mayor Rathin Chakraborty at a meeting in Nabanna on Wednesday to submit detailed project reports (DPR) and take the money.

“The mayor has submitted an estimate of Rs 105 crore for infrastructure development in Howrah. We have agreed to it. Funds will be disbursed within three working days of the submission of DPR for each project,” Hakim said after the meeting.

He said the facelift plan includes trident street lamps similar to the ones in Calcutta.

Chakraborty took office on December 11 after Trinamul won the Howrah Municipal Corporation elections last month.

“I had spoken to the minister. Howrah is suffering from multi-organ failure and we need money for its treatment. We will prepare the DPRs soon,” the mayor said.

Residents alleged that Howrah has been saddled with infrastructure problems for several decades but the civic body could do little to mitigate them. The common grouse has been that Calcutta played the favourite son while Howrah was always mistreated.

Most of the thoroughfares — including arteries East West Road, Belillious Road, Benaras Road, Foreshore Road and Panchanantala Road — in the corporation’s 50 wards are damaged and dotted with craters and potholes. Bad roads had led to several accidents in the past year. “The potholes have injured scores of motorcyclists. Our petitions to the civic body and meetings have gone waste,” alleged Nishit Sarkar, the secretary of Howrah Citizens’ Forum.

Dry taps are another scourge in Howrah. Mayor Chakraborty said the city requires 66 million gallon of water daily but “supply falls short by 26m gallon”.

The HMC operates a 40m-gallon treatment plant at Padmapukur Water Works, which has another 30m-gallon unit that the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority runs. “But the HMC produces only 22m gallon because the old machines cannot go beyond that. Some of the machines are out because of poor maintenance. This is causing a major supply shortfall,” the mayor said. He said Rs 23 crore would be spent on booster pumping stations and pumps for treating Hooghly water.

The mayor has sought funds to rid Howrah of its annual malady — monsoon waterlogging. “In some places, rainwater doesn’t recede for several weeks because of inadequate drainage,” a civic body official said.

Swathes of Howrah were inundated during the rainy season this year, which saw excess rainfall in some months. Even rail tracks were submerged near Howrah station, forcing cancellation of trains.

“We will install lift pumps in low-lying areas. We’ll seek the CMDA’s help,” the mayor said.

major FUNDS

• Rs 21cr: roadwork
• Rs 23cr: water supply
• Rs 20cr: drainage
• Rs 27cr: beautification, including trident streetlight