The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Roadwash rerun on city streets

Come September, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) will resume its project to wash the city streets. The exercise will begin after mayor Subrata Mukherjee returns from Johannesburg early next week.

More than a lakh gallons of filtered water will be sprinkled in the mornings on important city roads.

“We have bought 10 sprinkler vehicles for Rs 1 crore for the purpose,” said member, mayor-in-council (conservancy), Mala Roy, on Thursday.

Each tanker will carry 10,000 litres of filtered water, while special filling spouts have been installed at Tallah, Auckland Square, Raja Subodh Mullick Square and Tollygunge.

Roy had introduced the concept of street-washing two years ago, only to withdraw it immediately, as the idea “failed to satisfy” Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee. “She thinks that in a city where drinking water is scarce, it is a crime to wash the streets,” sources said. “It will send wrong signals,” Mamata is reported to have told the mayor earlier.

Sources said there had been a long-standing demand for filtered surface water from Mamata’s parliamentary constituency in Tiljala, Topsia and Picnic Garden. “And despite her repeated pleas, the water supply department has not taken up the scheme to date. Naturally, she is not willing to support road washing,” the sources added.

The civic authorities, meanwhile, are in a quandary over the citizens’ response to the concept. Letters, inquiring after the status of the project, are piling up in the civic office, the sources said.

Roy said when the CMC had introduced street-washing in August, more than 22 important roads were taken care of daily.

“People had welcomed the service, as the areas began to look spruced up,” she added. Harish Mukherjee Road, Sarat Bose Road, Gariahat Road, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Raja Rammohun Roy Sarani (Amherst Street), Bidhan Sarani and BB Ganguly Street were some of the roads included in the project.

CPM leader Sudhanshu Sil has, however, already expressed his displeasure over the project. “It is a luxury to wash the streets with filtered water while the city is reeling under a crisis,” he said, adding that the project was not financially viable, as the tankers would charge Rs 300 per round. Opposition leader Nirmal Mukherjee, too, was of the same opinion.

The CMC runs two pumping stations for unfiltered water at Mullickghat and Garden Reach, which pump 50 million gallons of unfiltered water daily to different parts of the city. Sources said the “chlorinated” unfiltered water could be used for the scheme.

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