The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Bribe’ drives civic wheels

The city’s civic authority has to “bribe” a section of its employees daily to avoid an impasse in conservancy and road maintenance services. This, thanks to trade unionism. The ‘official’ bribery takes the form of diesel, mobil, cloth and umbrellas, which the employees later sell in the open market.

According to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) accounts department’s estimate, the transaction will be to the tune of Rs 5 crore a year.

“The Left Front had started the tradition. If I discontinue it, the union leaders will be up in arms and garbage removal services will suffer,” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee.

A senior accounts officer, who preferred not to be named, said about 50 per cent of the Rs 6-crore procurement of diesel was utilised to bribe the drivers of roadrollers, trucks and bulldozers. “I call it a bribe because allotments are made to them according to a particular time-scale — daily or weekly — without verifying the utilisation of the previous allotment,” he said.

The result is that every day, the conservancy department is allotted 60 litres of diesel on an average to each of its fleet of 130 trucks and 400 litres of diesel daily to each of the three bulldozers operating at Dhapa dumping ground. The milometers of the trucks are never checked while supplying fuel to them.

Though 1,200 litres of diesel are allotted daily to the three bulldozers at Dhapa, a bulldozer driver, Haripada Kundu, had shown last year that 125 litres was sufficient for a bulldozer to carry out the job.

Similarly, there are 76 roadrollers in the roads department but none of them can be pressed into operation unless 80 litres of diesel and five litres of mobil are allotted to each every week.

“There is nothing I can do. I cannot demand utilisation accounts of the previous allotment. If I do, work will come to a standstill,” said mayoral council member (roads) Anup Chatterjee.

CPM councillor and former mayor-in-council member (conservancy) Kanti Ganguly said: “A racket is active at Dhapa in diesel sales. I drew the attention of the present civic board repeatedly to this theft, but in vain.”

Former conservancy chief Mala Roy claimed she had successfully slashed the daily fuel quota during her tenure. “If the mayor wants, he can put an end to this overnight,” she said.

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