Siliguri mayor Asok Bhattacharya is set to meet central ministers in New Delhi to press for the demand to include the Mahananda river in the Ganga rejuvenation programme and to apprise the leaders thereof the state government’s ‘reluctance’ in releasing funds meant for the Siliguri Municipal corporation (SMC) under central government projects.
Mr Bhattacharya said he would meet Union minister of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari, and minister of state (Independent Charge), housing and urban affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, during his two-day trip to the national capital on 14-15 June.
“Much has been said about the situation of Siliguri, and many criticise the garbage dumping and other things by observing things from the outside. But there has been continuous non-cooperation of the state government with the civic body. Siliguri needs comprehensive sewerage and drainage systems, solid waste management, and a Mahananda river action plan. The Mahananda river passes through the heart of the town, but the pollution in the river is on the rise. I met and wrote to several ministers, including the former Union ministers of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, to include Mahanada under the Ganaga rejuvenation programme, as the river is a tributary of the Ganga,” Mr Bhattacharya said.
He said he would meet Mr Gadkari to pursue the matter.
“The Mahananda action plan was taken up during the tenure of the erstwhile Left Front government, but the project has not been implemented in a full-fledged manner yet. I will request him again to bring Mahananda under the Ganaga programme, implement the project and take steps to ensure that the river is made pollution-free,” he added.
Also the former state urban development minister, Mr Bhattacharya regretted why no public representative made such requests for the development of Siliguri earlier. Mr Bhattacharya said the civic body received only some central funds to run projects under the 14th Finance Commission, Open Defecation Free Programme and Housing For All.
“We did not receive funds under planned heads from the state government. I will inform Mr Puri about how we have been deprived of the funds, which we are entitled to get under various state and central projects,” he added.
Mr Bhattacharya has been vocal about the alleged financial deterrents and infringement of the rights of the Opposition- run local elected bodies. “I do not believe in political untouchability for the sake of development,” he said.
After becoming the mayor in May 2015, he has met several union ministers in Delhi, while he also met some state ministers, including municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim in Kolkata. “I will also seek an appointment with Mr Hakim in Kolkata,” he said.