The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Water woes, landgrab tales

JAVED AHMED KHAN, mayor-in-council member in charge of health in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and Trinamul Congress councillor of ward no. 66, met readers of The Telegraph at 85, Topsia Road and replied to their queries. Participants included Amitava Chatterjee, Asoke Kumar Hore, Panchu Chowdhury, Giasuddin Dhali, Lakshmi Nath, Manowar Khan, Md. Habib, Sk. Arif Ali, Md. Ali, Md. Niaz, Md. Aslam, Md. Abdul Hasan, Md. Ansar Ali, Rabin Banerjee, Roshan Ali and Izaz Ahmed

Asoke Kumar Hore: We are quite confused about water tax. The government, the mayor and your party chairperson are all speaking at cross-purposes. The fact is that if water tax is imposed at a flat rate, poor people will suffer. Moreover, 40 per cent of the city’s population live in slums. They will be put to great financial strain.

We belong to a political party. We function according to the decisions taken by the party leaders. We shall follow what the party chief says. Our mayor will communicate our views about water tax to the state government and then a decision will be taken to ensure that people having low income do not suffer.

Amitava Chatterjee: Do you propose to offer jobs to the next of kin of civic employees who die in harness'

A rule exists in Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) Act for that. Under this rule, peons and clerks are recruited but those with higher qualifications cannot be inducted.

Amitava Chatterjee: Who are entitled to Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards' Does it depend on political colour'

It was decided that a person whose monthly income is below Rs 312 will be entitled to the card. But some problems have cropped up in the distribution of these cards. I shall try to draw the attention of the administration to the issue.

Asoke Kumar Hore: A CMC lawyer has alleged that you are trying to grab a 2.5-bigha plot.

I am aware of this allegation. I myself initiated a vigilance probe into the matter. Besides, a civil suit is pending and a man who claims to be the owner has appealled to the mayor seeking a lease on the plot.

The advocate who made the allegations has cheated a number of persons, including poor people. To check his activities, we have lodged complaints with the local police station. However, we are sure he is playing dirty under political patronage.

Giasuddin Dhali: Some say you have grabbed a plot on VIP Road, near Ambedkar Bridge, to build a party office.

If any one can prove the landgrab allegation, I will resign. Moreover, before taking possession of the plot, the party had made a thorough inquiry. If the plot had no legal status, the CMC would not have sanctioned the construction plan.

Panchu Chowdhury: Whatever happened to the CMC men who would come with mosquito sprays' Our locality has already recorded two malaria deaths.

Our mayor and an officer on special duty (health) keep a check on malaria. According to them, malaria is under control. If there is any outbreak, I must take up the matter with them.

Manowar Khan: We residents of Topsia Road have to suffer filthy water through CMC taps and mosquitoes.

That is because the irrigation department has taken up the job of cleaning the canal after 30 years. The problem will be shortlived. We are trying to drain out the accumulated water. Please bear with us for a better tomorrow

Manowar Khan: CESC men cracking down on the tanneries are also disconnecting domestic lines. Moreover, we are asked to pay a fine of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000, which is quite absurd for running a single fan and light.

It is not a civic problem but I am aware of it. We have told the CESC that we will not interfere when they disconnect factory lines, but we have formed a panel to fight for poor residents. I have already talked to the CESC for relief to the poor.

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