Councillors are divided in a 29:71 ratio over the growing demand for sharing 40 per cent tax revenue and charges collected from their respective wards for maintenance and development.
While nearly 100 councillors from 141 civic wards say the demand is “justified”, 41 councillors from Behala, Garden Reach and Jadavpur think if the demand is accepted on principle, all development work in the added areas will come to a standstill.
“We have no objection if mayor Subrata Mukherjee decides to utilise 100 per cent of the revenue earned from the added areas for their development,” said the councillors of Calcutta proper.
Preparation has started among councillors of the city proper, irrespective of party colour, to submit a memorandum to municipal commissioner Debasis Som and the mayor in support of their demand.
Congress councillor Iqbal Ahmed and Trinamul Congress councillor Debasis Kumar said they would start a signature campaign among the councillors of Calcutta proper after the Pujas. Ahmed hopes that CPM councillors from the city proper will join hands to boost the demand, as councillors in Cossipore and Tollygunge were in trouble because of zero development work in the past two years.
At least 90 per cent of the Trinamul councillors and almost all members of the mayor’s council hold an opinion on the issue. “We were better off during the Left Front regime, at least in terms of carrying out development activities in our wards. Now, it involves more than six months of paperwork to replace a manhole cover,” they point out.
“How long will our voters tolerate the practice of paying civic taxes at high rates'” asked Ahmed. He also pointed out a growing siphoning-off of funds in the added areas.
According to him, if the Rs 1,500 crore from the Asian Development Bank is spent for the added areas of Behala, Garden Reach and Jadavpur, the mayor should limit development expenditure to these areas.
Member, mayor’s council (water supply) Sovan Chatterjee pointed out that at least 80 per cent of the wards in the city core area are already saturated in respect of civic infrastructure facilities. Councillors of those wards were only to carry out maintenance work for the existing facilities.
“I admit there are several under-developed pockets in the city proper and these localities deserve special attention in terms of allocation of funds,” Chatterjee said.
According to him, a survey, which had been carried out to identify the problem of infrastructural facilities in the under-developed pockets of the city core area, was incomplete.