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Calcutta, July 14: 
Calcutta residents have reason to consider themselves luckier than their Salt Lake counterparts.

Shortly after being re-elected on Wednesday, Salt Lake municipality chairman and CPM leader Dilip Gupta announced that he would impose water tax in areas under his jurisdiction.

But newly-elected mayor of Calcutta Subrata Mukherjee announced on Friday that water tax would �not be levied� on domestic consumers in the near future.

The Trinamul mayor�s statement has taken the state government by surprise as the ruling Left Front has been pressing the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and other civic bodies to impose water tax on domestic consumers to boost their dwindling resources.

Even the World Bank has agreed to pour in funds to augment drinking water supply in the city on the condition that the CMC agrees to levy tax on water consumption. At present, only commercial users of CMC water are paying a fee.

Mukherjee, who had come to Writers� Buildings to meet deputy chief minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharya, said: �I am not in favour of levying water tax until and unless CMC augments its water supply in all areas in the city. We need at least 40 lakh additional gallons of water to meet the current water shortage in added areas alone.�

According to the mayor, levying of water tax would give out a wrong signal to Calcuttans as supply is scarce in most areas. Quality of drinking water needs special attention as well. he said.

Mukherjee, in this connection, stressed the need for a thorough clean-up of the age-old Tallah Tank in north Calcutta.

The mayor also said potable water should not be used for domestic washing and cleaning in the city. �It is in my opinion wastage of precious drinking water. I have a plan to supply Ganga water for these purposes and have contacted the central government in this regard. The river is under the Centre�s authority and we cannot use its water without Delhi�s sanction,� he added.

City of malaria

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee has expressed concern over the growing incidence of malarial attacks in the city. �Our city has earned a bad name, the city of malaria, all over the country,� he said.

Promising to give �topmost priority� to the control of the the disease. Mukherjee said he will soon seek the assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Indian Medical Association (IMA). �A meeting has been convened to discuss measures to combat malaria early next week,� announced the mayor.

According to Mukherjee, �accumulation of garbage� is responsible for the spread of diseases in the city. He accused the state PWD for allowing garbage to pile up near Rabindra Sadan, Birla Planetarium, Victoria Memorial and some points on Red Road.

�These areas stink because of the PWD�s failure. I have requested the deputy chief minister to put pressure on the PWD minister so that the areas are cleaned everyday. People do not know the areas are not under the CMC�s supervision and they blame the civic body for the accumulation of garbage outside heritage buildings in this beautiful part of the city,� he said.


Calcutta, July 14: 
Supporters of the Pradesh Chhatra Parishad and the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad took to the streets on Friday, putting up road blockades, attacking passing vehicles and disrupting traffic for hours. They were protesting the government�s decision to drop Higher Secondary courses from a number of colleges in Calcutta and in the districts.

Traffic came to a standstill as strategic points like Gariahat Road, Deshhpran Sashmal Road, Hazra Road, Phulbagan, Bowbazar, College Street, Mahatma Gandhi Road and Grey Street were blocked by turns.

At around 1.30 pm, nearly 500 supporters, led by Chhatra Parishad leader Sajal Ghosh, put up a roadblock on College Street. They turned violent near Calcutta University, pelting stones at passing vehicles, damaging two taxis and two state buses, burning effigies of state higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty and copies of Madhyamik marksheets. The police remained silent spectators and no arrests were carried out.

The students alleged that the acute scarcity of HS seats had left a large number of Madhyamik students struggling to gain admission to Class XI. They demanded the �immediate reintroduction� of HS courses in all 57 colleges in which they had been scrapped this year.

Sudin Chattopadhay, president, West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, however, said: �We have elevated 340 Madhyamik schools to the Higher Secondary level this year. So there should not be any problem of seats anywhere in the state.�    

Calcutta, July 14: 
Director general of state police Dipak Sanyal has recommended setting up of a special squad to maintain a close watch on violence in Keshpur.