A political blame game has begun over the drinking water issue in Siliguri, with the Trinamul Congress-led board of administrators (BoA) at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) training its guns on the erstwhile Left Front government for allegedly not addressing the issue back then.
Former Siliguri mayor and CPIM leader Asok Bhattacharya, on the other hand, blamed the present BoA for its alleged failure. Residents of Siliguri have been facing a problem of irregular drinking water supply for the past more than seven days as the PHE is carrying out work to clear silt deposited in the water treatment plant at Fulbari and the intake point.
PHE engineers have said that the desiltation work has been completed at the plant while work is under process at the point. “The previous government and the civic board (Left run) did not work for an alternative reservoir, while no arrangement for storage of water for seven-15 days was made,” said the BoA chairperson and former tourism minister Gautam Deb today.
According to Mr Deb, they have stressed on approval for a mega drinking water project of Rs 470 crore for the town. Mr Bhattacharya, meanwhile, said the existing project built in 1994 was meant for a population of 2 lakh, but that
the same had gone up to 7 lakh. He said the civic board had given top priority to approval and implementation of the mega drinking water project as they took charge of the civic body in 2015.
“The state government had started discrimination with the Left-run elected board since the beginning. Despite several efforts, we did not get any desired results. We had sent the proposal to the state urban development and municipal affairs department to include the project under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, but that did not happen due to political reasons,” Mr Bhattacharya said.
He also raised questions on the delay in sanctioning the project and said the BoA had failed to address the present water crisis. Siliguri’s BJP MLA Shankar Ghosh also accused the present BoA. For the town, water is drawn from the TeestaMahananda Canal and taken to the treatment plant, where it is purified.
Water flows from Fulbari to 16 overhead tanks and four underground reservoirs at different places of the town through a network of pipelines, which is maintained by the PHE. From the reservoirs, another network of pipes carries the water to all 47 wards.
The SMC supplies drinking water to more than 40,000 households in all 47 wards. The 1, 2 and 3 area committees of the CPI-M, Siliguri, have staged a demonstration at the SMC. “The water is yet to reach properly in all the wards, while in many areas the water is flowing like a thin thread. Many families depend on the water supplied by the civic body.
The present board has to take the responsibility,” said a former member of the mayor-in-council of drinking water supply in the previous Left-led civic board and senior CPI-M leader, Saradindu Chakraborty