The Trinamul-led civic board in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation is planning to expand its area and bring in some of the contiguous rural areas under its ambit, extending them civic services.
Siliguri mayor Gautam Deb said on Monday that they had initial approval from the state urban development and municipal affairs department. After Durga Puja, the SMC will conduct a comprehensive survey to identify areas included under the civic area as new municipal wards.
“I had a meeting with Firhad Hakim (minister of urban development and municipal affairs) for the inclusion of certain areas in Matigara (block, Siliguri subdivision) and Rajganj (block, neighbouring Jalpaiguri district) under the SMC. He has principally agreed to the proposal,” Deb said.
It is more than a decade now that residents of a number of localities, which still bear the rural tag, have been demanding a new civic body or inclusion of their areas under the SMC. The areas, they have pointed out, have rapidly become urban. However, as they are still under panchayats, residents do not get civic services like the residents of Siliguri civic area do.
These services include drinking water supply, proper solid waste management, proper roads and streetlights.
Deb said that areas of a number of civic bodies in the state like Asansol, have been expanded. However, since 1994, when Siliguri municipality was upgraded into a municipal corporation, there has been no such extension.
“We need a comprehensive plan to expand the civic area and will soon apprise chief minister Mamata Banerjee about it. We will have to consult agencies engaged in city planning. Once the plan is executed, it is obvious that the number of wards will go up,” said the mayor.
As of now, the SMC is spread across 42sqkm.
The councillors in the Opposition agreed to the expansion plan but criticised the Trinamul board for failing to provide basic civic services to residents.
Amit Jain, a BJP councillor and the leader of the Opposition in the SMC, said: "We fear that without improving basic civic services in the existing area, any expansion would only add to the burden of the residents. They are beleaguered with erratic water supply and poor conservancy services."
CPM councillor Saradindu Chakraborty spoke on similar lines.
“The mayor should focus on the present civic area so that residents get proper services and then think of increasing it,” he said.