The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 7 , 2017

Merger of agencies on cards

March 6: Three bills related to the government's efforts to merge two development agencies with the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) are set to be tabled in the Assembly in the ongoing budget session.

The two agencies the government wants to be merged with the CMDA are the Calcutta Improvement Trust (CIT) and the Calcutta Metropolitan Water and Sanitation Authority (CMWSA).

"The responsibilities and the functioning of the three organisations often overlapped as all of them deal in infrastructure development. The merger will make them more efficient and lower their operational costs," an official said.

The statement of objects and reasons of The West Bengal Town and Country (Planning and Development) (Amendment) Bill, 2017, states "avoiding multiplicity of organisations to perform the similar works... optimal utilisation of manpower of the amalgamating organs," as the reason for the proposed merger.

"The employee count in the three organisations has reduced over the years. If they are merged, all these people can be deployed for doing the same work. The revamped CMDA will be more efficient," the official said.

According to sources, the bills will be tabled in the Assembly in the current session, which ends on March 10.

The Business Advisory Committee of the Assembly, headed by speaker Biman Banerjee, is likely to decide on March 8 when the bills will be tabled.

Soon after coming to power in 2011, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said she would bring all roads in Calcutta under the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC). The roads are looked after by various organisations - such as the PWD, CMDA and the civic body. The system stands in the way of fixing accountability.

"If the mayor wants the Bypass or Diamond Harbour Road to be repaired, he can't do anything as these arteries are not under the civic authorities," an engineer in the civic body said. The Bypass is under the CMDA and Diamond Harbour Road is looked after by the PWD.

The merger of the CIT and CMWSA with the CMDA is expected to remove such jurisdictional bottlenecks in infrastructure development work, such as building underground drains.

Urban development minister Firhad Hakim - under whose department the three agencies function - has promised that the merger would not lead to job cuts.

Post-merger, anyone buying a plot under the CIT or CMWSA's jurisdiction will have to pay a development fee. Unlike the CMDA, these two bodies do not charge any development fee.

Cop assault cuffs

Two youth were arrested in New Town on Monday in connection with an assault on a policeman on February 1.

Mintu Halder and Asit Samaddar had thrashed the cop when he asked them to switch off loudspeakers blaring music on the occasion of Saraswati Puja, police said.

The two were at large and returned to New Town last night, the police said.

Activist injured

A Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad activist was injured in a factional fight at Charuchandra College on Monday. According to sources, the reason behind the clash was a difference of opinion over the allotment of funds for the college fest.

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