The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Slums spared tax burden

SOVAN CHATTERJEE, mayor-in-council member (water) and Trinamul Congress councillor of ward no.132, met readers of The Telegraph at his office on S.N. Banerjee Road. Participants included Susanta Ghosh (councillor of ward no. 120 and chairman, borough XIII), Javed Khan (mayor-in-council member in charge of health and councillor of ward no. 66), Ratan De (councillor of ward no. 93), Arup Biswas (ward 81 councillor and chairman, borough X), Debasish Kumar (councillor of ward no. 85 and chairman, borough VII), Sadhan Kumar Bose, Tarun Chakraborty, Sarthak Ganguly and Tapas Sarkar

Sarthak Ganguly: You are advocating the introduction of a fee on filtered water to realise maintenance costs for the waterworks and are set to impose a hefty annual tax on house-owners to realise the cost of producing 200 million gallons of filtered water a day. But house-owners’ requirements in the city work out to only about 50 million gallons a day. Then why should they be asked to pay for the extra150 million gallons'

Besides, do you have a yardstick to identify the poor of the city' Does a slum-dwelling family that can pay its cable operator Rs 180 a month find it difficult to shell out Rs 50 a month for filtered water'

We have decided to exempt the poor and economically-weaker section from coughing up water tax. We politicians don’t want to dig our own graves by taxing the bustee people and the tenants in the city.

Susanta Ghosh: Promoters disappear after handing over a building. As a result, occupants face a lot of trouble as they do not get completion certificates, which are a must for getting water connections. This is also depriving the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) of revenue.

The CMC has its own building department. According to the rules of that department, every occupant of a building must get a completion certificate. Presently, this certificate is not required in the case of a two-storeyed building. But every citizen should get drinking water. It is our duty to provide water to every tax-payer.

Javed Khan: It was announced at a function attended by mayor Subrata Mukherjee and party leader Mamata Banerjee that after the commissioning of the Kasba booster station, the drinking water problem will be solved. Has that materialised'

Originally, it was the state government’s programme to build a booster station at Kasba but later, it backed out. However, there has been some development. A plot has been acquired for the booster station and tenders will be called soon. In all probability, work will start from April. This booster station will be built by funds provided by the CMC. It is to be hoped that water from this reservoir will be available by 2004. After its completion, four million gallons of water will be added to the present supply and residents of a number of wards, including wards 66 and 67, will benefit.

Javed Khan: Residents of ward no. 66 are supplied water unfit for drinking.

In ward no. 66 ,water is supplied from big-diameter tubewells and this unfiltered water is not fit for drinking. Besides, contamination in water supply can take place due to various reasons. One of the most prevalent causes is that the supply lines in some places run through sewer ducts.

Javed Khan: Residents of ward 66 were told they would get water from the Park Circus reservoir. They don’t yet.

The Park Circus reservoir is beset with political problems. Not only some councillors, but also some Left Front MLAs are bickering with each other over water. We are trying to sort out the problem as soon as possible. Earlier, it was estimated that about 12 million gallons would be supplied from the Palta booster station, but we get only four million gallons.

Ratan De: Water from Garden Reach was supplied to Prince Anwar Shah Road and Garia. But after the commissioning of the Jadavpur reservoir, this supply has become erratic. Why'

The Garden Reach waterworks produce 60 million gallons of filtered water at present. It will be augmented to 91 million gallons soon and it is expected that in future, the problem will be solved.

However, it should also be noted that to fill up the Garfa reservoir, we have to take care of the distribution mains where 11 lines have joined. Now, it has been decided that the reservoir will be filled at off-hours through valves.

In addition to that, within a short period, the scenario will change with the commissioning of the Ranikuthi and Kalighat reservoirs.

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