The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Civic apathy leaves taps dry

More than a lakh residents of Kastho Danga, Sapui Para and their adjacent areas in Behala are forced to brave the scorching sun and fetch drinking water from a distance of at least five km every day, thanks to the indifference of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

Although, the area falls within ward 127 of the CMC and people regularly pay their taxes, water is not supplied here by the civic body. Fed up with the CMC officials’ callousness, residents have submitted a memorandum to Nirmal Mukherjee, leader of the Opposition in the CMC and CPM councillor of the area, demanding that he find a solution to their problem.

Sovan Chatterjee, mayoral council member in charge of water, hopes the problem will be resolved soon.

The areas have suffered water shortage for more than a year. Of the three tubewells in the area, one has not been working for almost 18 months now. The two others require some minor repairs only to be turned operative. The people have to depend on these tubewells, which they say, are unable to meet their demands.

Councillor Nirmal Mukherjee said the present municipal board was indifferent to the people’s woe. “The problem could be solved if the board covered 500 metres in a year instead of covering the entire stretch at one go. But it did nothing of the sort. The earlier board used to sanction about 20 tubewells in each ward. Now, there are only three,” Mukherjee pointed out.

To cover the areas without water supply, the board will requisition pipes at the May 20 board meeting. Then, the proposal will go to the finance department for funds to be sanctioned. Once funds are okayed, an order will be placed to purchase pipes. Even if the long-drawn-out process is complete, work will not begin before winter.

“Still, it is quite uncertain whether Kastho Danga and Sapui Para will get water before next summer,” councillor Mukherjee said. If the civic board really wanted to resolve the water crisis, the Behala project would have been launched six months ago, he added.

However, mayor-in-council member Sovan Chatterjee stressed that the present crisis will be over within a short period. “The local councillor has the resources to get the tubewell repaired. But it will take some time, for this requires huge funds,” Chatterjee said. Simply laying pipes will not help. One has to keep in mind the pressure with which the water is flowing, Chatterjee pointed out.

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