| Mayor Subrata Mukherjee and Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee: Lay off litterbugs
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee faces strong opposition from his party for contemplating harsh action against the city’s litterbugs.
Conservancy chief Rajib Deb told the mayor on Monday that it was not possible for him to slap a fine on offenders who dump garbage on the roads from highrises as the Trinamul Congress high command had directed him to adopt a soft line.
This is the mayor’s third setback at the hands of his partymen. Trinamul chairperson Mamata Banerjee had, earlier in 2001, stymied a proposed drive to clear the Esplanade pavements of hawkers. In 2002, she had blocked a civic campaign to have the city’s roads washed.
As an alternative to the fine proposal, Deb cited party advice — that the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) drag the offenders to the municipal magistrate’s court, where, after a trial and if the magistrate thought fit, a fine could be slapped on them .
“Under what law will the CMC book people for littering roads' There is no specific section or penal provision in the CMC Act, 1980, in this respect,” pointed out deputy chief law officer Shaktibrata Ghosh. In the absence of any specific legal provision, it would not be possible to prove any offender guilty, he added.
“When the Left Front ran the civic board, what we would collect as spot fine for dumping garbage on the road was actually a garbage clearance charge,” said assistant director (conservancy) Swapan Mahapatra. The conservancy department would levy garbage clearance charges for rendering extra services to a house-owner or shop-owner. The rate varied from Rs 50 to Rs 5,000 or more, depending on the volume of trash to be removed.
Mayor Mukherjee has expressed his concern over the growing tendency among highrise residents to dump garbage on carriageways by tying it up in polythene bags and tossing it out of their windows. “They keep the litter all day and wait for the evening to set in. That is when they start messing up the roads. I don’t know what prevents them from keeping the trash for a few hours more and handing it over to our men who visit their doorsteps every morning,” said Mukherjee.
The conservancy department has set up a special 20-member team to identify areas where this practice is rampant and submit a report to the mayor in 10 days.