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Administrator to hit services at SMC: Left

Siliguri, July 9: The Left Front councillors at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation today said they were against the appointment of an administrator at the civic body as such an arrangement would affect the civic services and sought early elections.

The SMC has been without a board ever since mayor Gangotri Datta resigned on May 20. As no party was ready to form a board, the state government could appoint an administrator for the day-to-day functioning of the corporation.

“We are against the appointment of an administrator as such a move will affect civic services and amenities provided to the residents. The state government is trying to delay the polls, which are due in September. But we want the polls to be held early so that an elected board can take charge of the SMC,” said Nurul Islam, the leader of the Opposition at the SMC.

“If an administrator is appointed, he would seize the powers of the councillors and ward committees, which carry out and monitor the day-to-day civic activities in all 47 wards,” he added.

According to the Left councillors, once the administrator is appointed, they won’t have the authority to issue residential certificates. “Also, the ward committees which look after mid-day meal distribution in primary schools, removal of garbage and repair and replacement of street lights will become defunct,” said a councillor.

Islam said schemes floated by the state government like Kanyashree and distribution of old age pension would suffer in case an administrator was given charge of the SMC. “If there are irregularities in the mid-day meal scheme in any school in any ward, the administrator or officials of the SMC will have to look into it. A residential certificate will also have to be issued by the administrator. It would be inconvenient for residents to visit the SMC office and meet the administrator for all these things,” he said.

The Left councillors today met SMC commissioner S.W. Bhutia and asked him how the state was planning to run the civic body. Dilip Singh, a CPM councillor, said the commissioner couldn’t give proper answers and appeared clueless about the future of the civic body. “Left workers are collecting signatures to demand early polls. We will submit a memorandum with over one lakh signatures to the district magistrate on July 18,” said Singh.

The municipal affairs department had last week sought the opinion of the law department on the next course of action with regard to the functioning of the SMC, but there has been no further development on the matter.

Observers said the Trinamul Congress was not keen on holding elections to the SMC on time. “The government wants to hold elections to the SMC along with other municipalities whose terms are to end soon. Polls to the SMC are due in September, but there is no likelihood of them being held before November. Many Trinamul leaders have already hinted that elections to all civic bodies will be held in November,” said an observer.