IQBAL AHMED, Congress councillor of Calcutta Municipal Corporationís ward no. 62, met readers of The Telegraph at Peace Makersí Club, on Alimuddin Street, last week, to reply to their queries. Participants included Mustafa Ahmed, Abdul Kayum, S.S. Khan, Sitaram Sau, Mohammad Yunus, Anwar Khan, Abul Hassan, Adnan, Mohammad Ibrahim, Lucky Saha, Manzur Ahmed and Rishad Nawaz
Manzur Ahmed: There has been a spurt in the areaís population. Why donít you build a few highrises for us'
We do not have permission to build highrises in this area. The roads are too narrow. If I build one, it will be an illegal act. How can I do something illegal'
Manzur Ahmed: Then how are they being constructed in some other wards'
It is true that illegal constructions are taking place elsewhere. But we donít have to follow suit. If we apply as per the rules, the government will not give us the permission. In spite of that, if we go ahead with the construction, it will be illegal and I cannot do that. I am sorry. Weíll have to look for other solutions to accommodate our brothers and sisters, but not through any unfair means.
Anwar Khan: Most residents of your ward are very poor and illiterate. Can you help at least one member of each family get a job so that at the end of the day, people are not hungry'
Thatís a serious problem. As you know, 95 per cent of the residents of this ward are slum-dwellers and uneducated. But I do not own a company that I can provide everyone with a job. I have tried to get people posts in private firms by requesting the owners, though. Let me see how far I can help these people.
Mohammad Yunus:You are laying out a park at Haji Mohammad Mohsin Square. But what about the one that existed' Thereís not a blade of grass there now. Can you employ a gardener to keep it in shape' There used to be one when we were young.
I will certainly do my bit but all of you must promise me one thing ó no one steps into the park for at least three months. Perhaps you have forgotten that I had prepared the grounds twice before, but no one took care of it. I will talk to mayor Subrata Mukherjee and get gardeners for the park. But one of the four clubs should take the responsibility of maintaining it.
Mohammad Ibrahim: What do you have to say about the crime situation in your ward'
Donít you feel the situation has improved dramatically after I came to power' I must say that the Ďgunda rají that once existed is over. Akram Hussain and Fayaz are the only ones still active but they are behind bars now. You may complain about petty theft, but that occurs everywhere.
Adnan: You claim waterlogging is a thing of the past. But there have been instances when we had to wade through knee-deep water. I feel the drainage system needs an overhaul.
I never said waterlogging does not take place. After a heavy shower, water does gather, but only for a few hours. You are right, though, about the drainage system needing attention.
What I had tried to say is that many parts of the city suffer worse situations. Also, one should keep in mind whether the pumping stations in the area are working properly or not. I keep a close watch on these things. You will soon see the start of work on a new 22-inch pipeline for drainage. Once it is in place, I hope standards will improve.
Rishad Nawaz: In most other wards, kerosene is distributed both in the morning and evening round the week, except Sundays. But in our ward, distribution takes place only on Saturday and Sunday mornings and that too, is not always available.
Well, though this is not my job, I will look into it. If there is any foul play, measures will be taken. I will also try and see that kerosene is available both in the morning and evening.
Abul Hassan: Please tell us about your development plans.
I have installed halogen lights on both sides of every street in this ward. I have installed new waterlines and residents are happy with the water supply. Most of the streets are in good condition. The stretches that need attention will be attended to before the festive season.