Assembly clears borough bill

The Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill seeking to create the 16th borough of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, which civic engineers said would help provide better services to the residents of Joka and adjoining areas.

By Our Bureau
  • Published 28.05.15
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The Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill seeking to create the 16th borough of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, which civic engineers said would help provide better services to the residents of Joka and adjoining areas.

The new borough will comprise three wards in Joka that were created in 2012 - 142, 143 and 144 - as well as a few wards in the Behala-Thakurpukur belt that will be carved out of boroughs XIII and XIV.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation Act 1980 has been amended "to provide improved civic services and setting up of bigger infrastructure particularly in the recently added areas of erstwhile Joka I and Joka II gram panchayats and a part of Maheshtala Municipality, along the south-west part of the city, which has resulted in the increase of three wards", reads the statement of objects and reasons for the amendment.

"We will decide later which wards (of boroughs XIII and XIV) will become part of Borough XVI," mayor Sovan Chatterjee later said.

A civic engineer said the three wards of Joka - covering 18.96sq km - together are equal to or bigger than each of the 15 boroughs of the CMC.

"Joka needs massive development of roads, drainage and street lights. Creating a new borough for them, instead of merging them with an existing borough, is more meaningful. It will be easier to administer the place if they are part of a new borough. Also more funds will be available for their development," said P.K. Dhua, director-general (civil), CMC.

Officials said boroughs XI to XV get an additional Rs 30 crore a year each for development work.

Boroughs XI to XV include Jadavpur, Behala and Garden Reach, which were merged with the CMC in 1984. "It is likely that the new borough will get the same funds as boroughs XI to XV," the official said.

The chairperson of a borough decides on the allocation of funds following talks with the councillors of the wards in the borough.

During the debate on the bill, Asit Mitra of the Congress said the practice of urban expansion must stop.

"Urban areas are urban and rural areas should remain rural. The areas were included in the corporation because of pressure from the realtors' lobby. As a result of the merger, land prices will go up," he said.

In his reply, urban development minister Firhad Hakim said a section of people "were opposing this on sentimental grounds, like in Bally Municipality where residents wanted to stick to the traditional arrangement".

He added: "The amendment was inevitable for the region's development. It was a timely move. Had it not been taken, the residents of the area would have missed out on urban civic amenities."