The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Streets awash, taps run dry

CHOTTU CHOWDHURY, CPM councillor of Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) ward no. 67, met readers of The Telegraph at the Talbagan health centre to reply to their queries. Participants included Sailendranath Banerjee, Bijoy Kumar Biswas, Subodh Das, Kartik Banerjee, Madan Jha, Manju Roy, Boren Sarkar, Ashok Mallick, Benu Dey and Chandan Roy

Sailendranath Banerjee: Waterlogging is a perennial problem. Even a mild shower floods the area and the water stagnates for more than two or three days. You had told me earlier that the problem will be resolved soon. You had also mentioned a Rs 5-lakh fund that is ready for carrying out desilting operations in the drainage system. What is the current status'

You are right. Waterlogging is a real problem for residents of my ward. For the past three years, I have not been able to desilt the canal, which is the main water outlet. Naturally, the canal bed has risen and is resulting in waterlogging, apart from choking the drainage system. The problem lies with the CMC. It has not allowed me to hand over the desilting job to a contractor. The civic board said workers of the department should do the job. This is not possible, as there are only a few employees in the department and they are busy cleaning the drains. They do not have the time or the manpower to take on such a big project. As you know, I have tried to solve the problem by pumping out the water when it stagnates. But good times are on the cards, as the mayor-in-council has passed a Rs 1-crore project, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and I hope the project will start by the year-end.

Sailendranath Banerjee: What about the drinking water problem' The CMC supply is not sufficient. Residents of other wards get water for seven to eight hours a day. In our ward, the supply is made only for three hours. Don’t you think that is unfair'

The overhead tank constructed in 1977 is proving to be insufficient, as there has been an increase in population over the years. I plan to boost water supply by setting up bore-wells in the ward till the booster station is built. But here, too, we face a lot of difficulty, as the three deep tubewells that we have installed are pumping out salty water, unfit for drinking. The water from these tubewells can be used for bathing, at least. I also plan to set up at least 35 handpumps in the next year. Apart from that, I have requested the authorities to provide the ward with more water from the Garden Reach Waterworks.

Bijoy Kumar Biswas: What do you have to say about the overflowing drains on Dharamtala Road even during the summer'

This is a recent problem. As you know, the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) had taken up a project to turn the ‘kutcha’ surface drains into concrete ones. But it failed to complete the project. During the construction, its workers had blocked the water outlets, which remain so to date. That is why it takes time for the water to clear out. I met CMDA officials recently and they assured me the problem will be taken care of with the ADB-generated funds.

Subodh Das: Swinhoe Lane has not been repaired for more than 15 years. Also, the sewerlines are cleaned but the silt is dumped on the roadside and not cleared for months. Why'

We do not have the funds or the manpower to relay an entire stretch. When the CMC sanctions funds, we’ll repair the roads.

Second, the CMC truck comes once a week to remove the silt, as we share the truck with a few neighbouring wards. The amount of desilting in our ward far surpasses the one-lorry-load-per-week quota. We have arranged for a private lorry and a few residents of the area have assured us of financial help. We will try and regularise the practice once this scheme is underway.

(To be concluded)

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