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Board of officials to run SMC

- Administrator set-up soon

Siliguri, Aug. 17: A four-member administrative board or committee will take over Siliguri Municipal Corporation from next week till the civic polls are held, civic sources said today.

The body, comprising officials from different government departments and agencies, might be announced next week.

“The board or committee is likely to have an initial tenure of six months. Later, depending on circumstances, the option to extend its tenure might be exercised by the government,” a senior administrative official said.

If the civic election is held before six months, the body would be dissolved.

The SMC is running without an elected head since May 20 and the offices of the deputy mayor and members mayor-in-councils, are also vacant. Following the resignation of mayor Gangotri Datta on May 20 and removal of the deputy mayor and the MMICs from the posts, the municipal affairs department had issued a directive to the commissioner of the SMC to hold mayoral elections on June 14.

“But none of the 47 councillors filed nominations,” said a source.

On July 30, the municipal affairs department issued a notice seeking representations on why the board should not be dissolved. But no representation was submitted in the next 10 days. In such a situation, the state government had the option of appointing an administrator to run the civic body.

“But it has been decided that instead of deputing an individual as an administrator, an administrative committee or board would be formed. All the members would be government officials,” the source in the SMC said.

According to sources, the members are likely to be R. Vimala, the CEO of Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority, Dipankar Piplai, the assistant secretary of north Bengal development department, P.T. Sherpa, the additional district magistrate of Siliguri, and S.W. Bhutia, the commissioner of SMC.

“In all likelihood, a formal announcement of the new board would be made by next week,” said an official.

Other political parties criticised the government’s move to form a body or a committee to run the municipality.

“An administrator or a board cannot be the replacement for an elected board. Trinamul is worried about losing the civic polls. This is why it is delaying the elections. We want immediate polls and we condemn the decision of forming a body,” Rathindra Bose, the BJP president of Siliguri, said.

The BJP had got leads in several urban Assembly segments under the SMC.

The SMC polls were supposed to be held next month. But the state wants to hold it either in November or February next year.

The CPM’s Asok Bhattacharya, a former municipal affairs minister, said: “The state is not ready for polls as it is fearing the worst results.”

Trinamul SMC councillor and secretary general of the party, Darjeeling district, Krishna Paul, said: “We are not scared. We are ready for the polls whenever they are held.”