As the monsoon season sets in with full force, roads in areas under the Balurghat Municipality in South Dinajpur have gone from bad to worse. While almost all the roads are in a deplorable condition, residents of Ward 22 and 25 have already put up a demonstration against the municipality’s alleged apathy.
According to the locals, the repair and maintenance work of roads has long stopped, and no initiative has been taken to stop the movement of overloaded lorries inside the municipality area.
“Moreover, the high drains have been occupied by people with illegal constructions all over them. The municipality authorities have remained silent on the problems,” a local man said.
While the opposition parties have demanded immediate elections to the municipality and action against encroachment, members of the Municipality Board of Administrators have claimed success in the work they have been doing.
The tenure of the elected board of the municipality ended in October 2018, and the state government appointed the Balurghat Sub-Divisional Officer as the administrator of the civic body until elections are held. Sometime later, two more members in the shape of Sankar Chakraborty and Arpita Ghosh were included in the board.
However, the board did not last long and in January this year, another 11-member board was appointed, which is allegedly struggling to provide basic services to the residents. The Gangarampur Municipality in the district is also under a board of administrators.
“The condition of the roads in the Municipality area has become worse than those in rural areas. We can say there is no road at all in ward No 1 to 10 and 18 to 25. The bitumen layers have peeled off and the road is now filled with potholes. There is no road side drain in wards 22, 23, 24 and 25. Some people have constructed houses on the high drains in the past six months,” another resident said.
“A group of officials are hand in glove with such encroachers and they are encouraging the local people to occupy government land. The administrative board has remained silent on this. As the drains are occupied, there is no outlet for the water, which now flows on the roads. No one is ready to take the responsibility of the maintenance of the roads,” said one resident of Ward 22, Ranjit Das.
Pallab Halder, another resident, said lorries loaded with stone, sand and other building materials run frequently in the municipality area. “The roads are not so strong. In the Lalmati area 30 to 50 trucks and tractors move about every day. There is no road at all. We have informed the municipality, but no action has been taken yet,” he said.