A day after his name was approved for the post of Kolkata Mayor, state Municipal Affairs and Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim on Friday began to hold meetings with Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) officials to identify areas of work that need special focus.
“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has given me the task of addressing issues of inadequate water supply in Jadavpur and Tollygunge. People living in these areas get water from deep tubewells, but not clean drinking water like the rest of the city. This will be my first priority. Secondly, there are several projects under JNNURM which needs sanctioning. However, we do not get funds for such projects from the Centre. We hope to receive funds for such projects once a new government is appointed at the Centre,” said Hakim.
Minister, Mayor: Two roles, some meeting points
For Kolkata Mayor-elect Firhad Hakim, his experience as a minister is expected to help him in his new role. The immediate tasks in front of him — involving dengue, waterlogging and water supply — also come within the ambit of his role as state Municipal Affairs and Urban Development Minister. As a Trinamool Congress insider noted, “A civic body runs in coordination with Municipal Affairs and Urban Development departments. Being the minister for these two important departments, Hakim will not face any roadblock or hurdles in clearing projects that need a go-ahead from them.”
Municipal Commissioner Khalil Ahmed and Director General of Fire Services Jag Mohan were among the officials the minister met.
Hakim’s appointment was announced after the previous mayor, Sovan Chatterjee, resigned on Thursday. A day earlier, the state government had passed a Bill in the Assembly to appoint a non-elected person to the post of mayor with the condition that he/she would have to be elected as a KMC councillor within six months.
Hakim said controlling dengue outbreaks and solving waterlogging problems will be some other key areas of focus.
“We have to have a massive drainage system in the city to combat the problem of waterlogging in low-lying areas. We will also focus on turning Kolkata into a clean and green city. We will first raise awareness in this regard and then impose fine against anyone who will spit or throw dirt on the road. To control dengue outbreak, we have to launch a massive awareness campaign among citizens. We have to make them aware to not keep places unhygenic and dirty, as such places become breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” he said.
Hakim also said the state government is planning to construct several flyovers in the city to ensure smooth traffic movement. “We will also plant more trees across the city to reduce pollution. Our aim will be to continue the development which has been ushered in by my predecessors,” Hakim added.
Deputy mayor stresses on tax collection, city beautification
A day after being appointed the deputy mayor of Kolkata, Atin Ghosh Friday said that his prime focus would be to ensure 24×7 water supply to households as well as beautification of the city.
“I believe if proper services are given, people automatically become responsible and thus it is easier to maintain cleanliness in the city. My prime focus would be to supply water 24×7 and to beautify the city,” said Ghosh.
Ghosh, who was also the Mayor-in-Council (Health) of KMC, said he will also work towards valuation and collection of tax. “Tax collections which are due would be a part of my work.” Ghosh, considered close to former mayor Sovan Chatterjee, also added that he felt Sovan would face his troubles with ease.
“Kolkata is an unplanned city and KMC provides services to over one crore people. Around 60 lakh people come to the city for work purpose daily. It is a big challenge to give proper services to all of them,” he added.