By A Newsman
Siliguri, 12 September: THE slugfest between Trinamool and CPI-M over the drinking water crisis in Siliguri led to a massive chaos in the town today after Trinamool student activists stopped Mayor Ashok Bhattacharya from entering the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC).
Bhattacharya, who belongs to the CPI-M, was forced to spend nearly two hours in his car outside SMC gate from around 11 am while police pleaded with Trinamool agitators to allow him in. Inside SMC, the Trinamool councillors were running a parallel agitation protesting the suspension of drinking was supply in the town since 08 September.
This is even as the supply of drinking water in town, which was suspended for shifting of water pipes at Fulbari on the outskirts of Siliguri to make room for construction of Asian Highway-II, resumed today morning.
Protesting the harassment being meted to Siliguri Mayor, CPI-M’s student wing SFI launched a counter-agitation by blocking the road at Hashmi Chowk in the heart of Siliguri.
While the agitation by Trinamool brought traffic to a standstill on Baghajatin Road, the blockade by SFI created a huge traffic snarl on Mahabirsthan Flyover, Hill Cart Road, and Bidhan Road. The blockade was withdrawn only after Trinamool agitators allowed Mayor Bhattacharya to get into SMC post-noon.
Drinking water in the 47 wards of Siliguri is supplied from the treatment plant located at Fulbari, which is maintained by state public health engineering (PHE) department. The water from Fulbari flows through large pipes for about seven km to the reservoirs that are located at different places in the town, and from there to the households in the town.
On 08 September, PHE began relocating the large pipes at Fulbari to facilitate the construction of the Nepal-India-Bangladesh stretch of Asian Highway-II.
According to SMC’s Member-Mayori-in-Council (water) Sharadendu Chakraborty, PHE was to complete the task on 09 September but the breach in a pipe during relocation prolonged the process. This led to an acute shortage of drinking water in Siliguri, especially the new high-rises, slums, and residents in added areas in the town that are bereft of alternative water sources such as wells or ponds.
“PHE has finally rectified the breach last night and supply of drinking water has been resumed in the town. From now, there should not be any glitch in the water supply,” Chakraborty said accusing Trinamool of resorting to politics over the issue.