SUBRATA MUKHERJEE, mayor, Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), met readers of The Telegraph at the CMC conference hall last week. Participants included Mohd Amiruzzaman, Abhijit Das, Samir Ganguly, Susanta Ghosh (chairman of Borough XIII), Diptimoy Ghosh, Gopal Roy (councillor of ward no. 112), G.C. Laha, Jitendranath Das, Arup Biswas (chairman of Borough X), Debu Roy Chowdhury, Tej Kanwar Singh, Bimal Bhattacharya and Shahid Husain Khan
Tej Kanwar Singh: You have been a minister. Now, you are mayor. Which post do you prefer' Second, why were there such problems in your council recently'
I am a loyal party worker, so whatever responsibility is entrusted to me, I try to discharge it with utmost sincerity. In a family, a problem may crop up any time. The recent turmoil was no exception. But now, we are working with proper rapport and there is no scope for misunderstanding.
Debu Roy Chowdhury: After becoming mayor, you have taken a number of positive steps. The waiver of tax penalty has earned the CMC about Rs 150 crore. Are there any more plans'
Actually, such moves require a nod from the government, which is very difficult to obtain. If the government permits, further initiatives can be taken.
Debu Roy Chowdhury: Inspectors who visit houses for assessment are very open to bribes. A fee can alter the tax yoke of any house-holder.
It is a vice of some inspectors. They have changed the entire taxation procedure to suit their whims. Of course, I have taken steps against some corrupt officers. Already, 15 have been dismissed, which is a record in the CMC. To root out this evil, I have proposed certain steps, like a two per cent hike in valuation every six years.
Arup Biswas: A vast area of New Alipore is submerged every monsoon. The port canal is not wide enough for dispersal of the rainwater.
I am aware of the problem. Recently, a minor girl fell into the canal and died. We have sanctioned funds from the Ganga Action Plan to build a drainage plant. The port authorities had refused to give us land but we made them change their opinion. I hope the drainage plant will solve the problem.
G.C.Laha: I am a resident of Sitaram Ghosh Street. Waterlogging is a relatively new phenomenon for us.
A discharge plant has been erected at Thanthania to drain the area during showers. Still, I will check what the problem is in your area.
Bimal Bhattacharya: You had stopped the sale of cut fruit, but these vendors have returned.
Frankly, this nuisance can be stopped by the authorities. But people should also be conscious and not patronise these vendors.
S.H. Khan: Is there a cell where citizens can lodge complaints'
No, we donít have such a cell. A voluminous number of complaints are lying with the CMC from the time before we came to power. I and my councillors are aware of these complaints. We are striving to solve them.
Jitendranath Das: In the city, desiltation is a problem and the equipment used by the CMC for the purpose is quite expensive. Instead, a locally-developed grab bucket can be used. It will not only speed up work but at the same time, it is cheaper. Considering that the CMC coffers are empty, why donít you try these buckets'
Your suggestion is appreciable, as the CMC is financially in a crisis. However, before my approval of these buckets, there is a procedure that has to be followed, including a study of the equipment by civic experts. So, primarily, the equipment you are referring to needs to be demonstrated to our experts.