The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hawkers out, clean signal at Howrah
- Puja date for station doll-up

A pre-puja bonus awaits hundreds of commuters from far-flung areas who have to make a daily transit through Howrah station. The premises will sport a spotless look, if the beautification scheme undertaken by the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) materialises in the next two months.

The Howrah civic authorities intend to instal proper sanitation facilities at the station and turn the premises into a hawker-free zone. Elaborating on his revamp plans on Sunday, HMC mayor Gopal Mukherjee said: “All hawkers and illegal squatters will be evicted from the area adjacent to the bus-stand leading to the station as part of the beautification project.”

He also announced plans of constructing toilets with 24-hour water supply at the station to benefit over eight lakh commuters.

Over the years, the civic authorities have turned a deaf ear to the numerous complaints lodged by commuters, regarding the unhygienic conditions in and around the station.

The roads and bus lanes are heavily littered with garbage and human waste, and the bus-stand off the station premises does not have proper sanitation facilities either.

Matters did not improve even after a public urinal was constructed some time ago, as water supply was extremely irregular.

Every day, hundreds of passengers take buses to destinations across the state from Howrah.

The HMC mayor assured citizens that his men would dig a bore-well in the area to meet the present water crisis. The water source will be used for sanitation purposes as well.

Corporation officials said those found publicly urinating or defecating in the vicinity of the station would be penalised. “We have initiated a talk with the district police to undertake a joint drive to rein in people from flouting the cleanliness norms,” they added.

The civic authorities have also decided to pull down all illegal sheds in the bus-stand soon. Most of these sheds operate as makeshift shops.

However, the municipal authorities stuck to their long-standing decision of not setting up a drinking water facility in the station area, citing contamination in overhead water reservoirs.

“Most people carry drinking-water bottles with them and providing a drinking-water facility at the bus-stand is not feasible at the moment,” the mayor said.

But with complaints from passengers pouring in regularly on the lack of drinking water and vehement protests against the municipality’s decision, the authorities are likely to reconsider their decision.

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