SRIHIR BHATTACHARJEE, chairman, South Dum Dum Municipality, met readers of The Telegraph at his Nager Bazar office, in Dum Dum. Participants included Tulsi Kanta Nandi, Dwijen Mukherjee, Sudip Banerjee, Subir Sen, Saradindu Bikash Das, Bimal Bhattacharya, Sambhu De, Samar Ganguly, Basudeb Goswami, Mithu Das and Tapas Kar
Tulsi Kanta Nandi: We know that people’s participation is imperative in self-governance. In that respect, how successful has our municipality been'
The credit for a large part of our success must go to the present government for revising the Bengal Municipal Act of 1980 and including ward committees in its ambit. As a result, the opinion of the people cannot be ignored. So, a municipality will be represented by all sections of people. Every development work will be discussed at the ward committees. After that, the municipality will try to execute the project through different government agencies.
Tulsi Kanta Nandi: How much of the success has been achieved in your tenure'
This cannot be replied to in one sentence. I always try to work in consultation with my council members, councillors and ward committee members. It is not always possible to please everybody, but we strive to work to their satisfaction.
Dwijen Mukherjee: What steps have you taken to ease the process of house-tax or sanctions for water connections and house-building plans'
It is clearly stated in Bengal Municipal Act that after the submission of a plan, its feasibility should be studied. Then, engineers will go through it meticulously and recommend it for sanctioning, after following other formalities.
Regarding water supply, our municipality has 49 pumps. The area has a population of about four lakh and we need more pumps to supply water to more than 55,000 houses.
Third, regarding house tax, it should be noted that Central Valuation Board took up the matter. The Board will fix the rate of tax and send letters to the tax-payers. We can offer relaxation up to 25 per cent. At one time, around 21 per cent of the people used to pay tax, but now, the figure has gone up to 50 per cent. Still, we are not satisfied.
Subir Sen: A massive project has been taken up to widen Jessore Road and as a result, commuters are stuck in regular traffic jams at Nager Bazar. When will this ordeal end'
It has taken several deputations to the state and central governments to get the extension work from Patipukur railway bridge to the VIP Road–Jessore Road crossing started. No doubt, people are suffering, but they’re also cooperating. We have evacuated the encroachers and settled the issues of temples and mosques through extensive discussions at different levels. Moreover, Nager Bazar is always congested. However, in this regard, Nager Bazar Bus Workers’ Union is helping a lot. It is hoped that work will be over in a year. Then, people will get proper pavements, drains, culverts and even plantation.
Bimal Bhattacharya: What steps have you taken to generate funds for the municipality'
Our maximum emphasis is on tax collection. In addition, we have taken a number of steps to generate funds. Soon, we will start collecting car-parking fees. Moreover, we have levied a tax on anyone who starts pisciculture in a municipal pond or on refugee rehabilitation land.
Saradindu Bikash Das: The government has taken steps to avert a financial crisis. Are you following in its footsteps'
We have reduced the number of hired cars. We have also restricted the telephone bill of the chairman-in-council to Rs 1,500 per cycle. You will be surprised to know that we have even dropped the custom of providing tiffin during meetings of the chairman-in-council.