Tarun Goswami
[email protected]
Kolkata 15 July
 Nearly three decades have  passed without the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) being able to set up a proper municipal streets technical committee.
Section 345 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) Act 1980 which came into force in 1984 states that there shall be a municipal streets technical committee with the municipal commissioner as its chairman and another officer as its convener.
Besides, the commissioner and the other officer the committee shall have five members of which one shall be a nominee of Kolkata metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), one shall be a nominee of  Commissioner of  police, three shall be nominated by the state government.  The committee shall meet once in a month. The functions of the committee include classification of public streets,  regulation of   abutting land uses, designation of street parking areas,  allocation of  right of way for underground utilities, placement of street furniture etc. The committee may call for any paper, document, data of map from KMC or KMDA, or commissioner of police  or any department of the state government or any competent authority and thereupon it shall be its or his duty to comply with such requisition.
Senior KMC officials said no effort has ever been made by the authorities ever since the KMC Act 1980 came into force in 1984. The deputy commissioner of traffic or his nominee attends the meeting but there are no representatives from the state transport, PWD departments and KMDA. The committee has engineers from KMC and it takes the decision flouting laws. According to the KMC Act, 1980,  the committee plays an important role in determining parking fees under section 355. It states that the municipal commissioner may subject to the recommendation of the municipal streets technical committee and with the prior approval of the mayor- in- council may close a portion of the road and declare it as a fee parking area.Civic officials said section 355 had never been implemented. After the Left Front came to power, without forming the committee fee parking areas were set up and cooperatives were formed to collect fees from car owners. The cooperatives collecting parking fees were controlled by the CPIM. Interestingly, after TMC came to power there has not been any change. Three of its ministers are heads of two cooperatives that collect parking fees.