Mr Builder & Mr Popular A pledge for clean city, clean image

New Coal Belt mayors pull off epic electoral wins, but can they deliver?

By Praduman Choubey
  • Published 30.05.15
Son Kshitij  smears gulal on new mayor Chandrashekhar Agarwal on Friday as supporters of councillors wait outside the counting centre in Dhanbad (below). Pictures by Gautam Dey

Dhanbad's new mayor, builder Chandrashekhar Agarwal, has sworn to sanitise the coal capital, both in terms of solid waste and wasteful officials.

Agarwal, an executive committee member of the state BJP who is also considered close to chief minister Raghubar Das, bagged 93,105 votes to defeat his closest rival, Youth Congress leader Shamsher Alam, by a margin of 42,594 on Friday, when the results of the civic elections were declared.

Deputy commissioner and chief returning officer Kripanand Jha said that though civic polls were apolitical, office-bearers of political parties could fight the same in individual capacity. "Rules don't bar them from contesting, winning or assuming office. But, he or she cannot use a party banner, slogan, symbol and flag," he added.

Agarwal, 55, a touted follower of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, said reviving a solid waste management project would be his top priority. "Shifting garbage from one place to another is no solution. Dhanbad needs proper recycling of waste collected from households, which alone can ensure that mounds of unmentionables don't rot in every nook and corner of the 55 wards under DMC," he said.

A Rs 55-crore solid waste management project - complete with a recycling unit - was launched in the coal town under JNNURM in August 2012. It had to be shelved in January 2014 following a dispute between the DMC and its private partner, A2Z Waste Management.

Next on the list of the mayor-designate, a BTech from NIT-Warangal, is resolving Dhanbad's acute water worries.

"Every natural resource in the district will be tapped. Immediate de-silting of the Topchanchi Lake will be carried out. All houses will receive tap connections within two years," Agarwal said.

Several parts of Dhanbad district, including 11 wards in the Katras circle, are reeling under water scarcity. Reason: the receding water level in the lake, which is the only natural source of water for Katras.

Son of a "humble and honest" farmer, Agarwal completed his matriculation from Katihar, Bihar, and intermediate (science) from Begusarai. "My father could not send me to elite schools, but he taught me there is no short cut to success. At DMC, corruption will not be tolerated. I also expect co-ordination among councillors," the new mayor said.

Agarwal delved into a host of other issues, including park and parking. While he promised attention to a neglected children's park in Hirapur, he deplored haphazard parking that "is shrinking 100-feet-wide roads of Dhanbad into less than half". He pledged changes in building bylaws with the help of the urban development department to ensure more parking facilities.

Self-assessment and digitisation of taxes are also on the new civic head's agenda. "An online system of submission of holding and other taxes will be launched. The existing tax ambit will be increased to shore up DMC revenue," Agarwal added.

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