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Govt names team to run SMC

Siliguri, Aug. 18: The state government has dissolved the Siliguri Municipal Corporation’s board of councillors and put in place a team of three administrators to run the civic authority for six months.

The order issued by joint secretary U.N. Sarkar, dated August 14, said the corporation was dissolved “with immediate effect, for a period not exceeding six months or until the newly elected councillors take over charge, whichever is earlier”.

In another notice from the state government, the names of the three administrators were given.

R. Vimala, the chief executive officer of the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority, P.T. Sherpa, the additional district magistrate of Siliguri, and Dipankar Piplai, an assistant secretary in the north Bengal development department, are the three officials.

The SMC commissioner, S.W. Bhutia, will remain in his post and will be assisted by the three administrators in running the civic authority.

The Trinamul Congress had been reluctant to hold elections to several municipalities and corporations, fearing that the BJP may do well in some urban areas, though the tenure of at least 17 civic bodies is over.

In the case of the SMC, too, the Trinamul-led government is not keen to hold elections.

The BJP had led Trinamul in several segments of the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat that fall in SMC areas. “It is clear that Trinamul is not in favour of holding the civic polls ahead of Durga Puja and wants it to be held on February next year. Now that the order has been issued on August 14, it is evident that the board of administrators at SMC would be able to function till February 14, that is, for six months,” an SMC source said.

“With this dissolution, the councillors are not longer in their posts. A meeting of this board of administrators has been convened at noon tomorrow,” Bhutia said. “From now, work in the wards will be done with the help of employees and officials of borough offices.” Bhutia added: “Tomorrow, we will also discuss routine works and additional works to be taken up ahead and during the upcoming festive seasons of Durga Puja and Diwali.”

Sankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district president, said: “We have serious doubts if a handful of officials, many of whom lack extensive knowledge of wards and localities, would be able to run the routine services in the absence of councillors.”