The Calcutta Municipal Corporation will not approve any building plan without checking how the property will get its water and dispose of its effluent, mayor Firhad Hakim said on Tuesday.
The decision to link water supply with the approval of building plans is aimed at minimising extraction of groundwater, Hakim said.
According to civic officials, the absence of enough surface water forces several apartment blocks in pockets of Jadavpur, Kasba, Behala and Tollygunge to use high-power pumps to extract groundwater.
Hakim made the announcement while speaking about the steps the CMC was taking to reduce the use of groundwater and waste of potable water at the monthly meeting of councillors at the civic headquarters on SN Banerjee Road.
“We will not approve a building plan without checking how the building will get its water and set up drainage pipes,” the mayor said.
A section of officials said if the mayor’s suggestion was implemented, no new construction would be allowed in the areas where the civic body had failed to supply surface water and install a drainage network.
“That would amount to admitting the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s failure to set up the basic infrastructure it is supposed to build,” an official said. Hakim’s announcement came in response to a statement from Ratna Roy Majumdar, the leader of the Opposition in the civic house.
Roy had spoken about how multiple large apartment blocks were extracting groundwater for their use because they did not get enough surface water.
There are 369 deep tube wells run by the CMC across Calcutta, most of which are in the areas where water scarcity is a daily problem.
Over the past year, the CMC has installed over 40 deep tube wells in parts of Jadavpur, Tollygunge and Kasba, where a large section of the population does not get potable water.
The deep tube wells extract groundwater, which is sent to houses after filtration.
Sources in the civic body said rejecting building plans because of the CMC’s failure to set up the basic infrastructure would be unfair.
The civic body’s aim should be to build the infrastructure as quickly as possible, an official said.
A senior CMC official said the CMC Act or the CMC Building Rules had no provision allowing the civic body to reject building plans on the ground that the structure lacked supply of potable water or did not have a drainage network.
“We will need to amend the act and the building rules to implement what the mayor said,” another official said.
The corporation, Hakim pointed out, was also taking various other steps to reduce dependence on groundwater. CMC sources said the civic body was installing water meters in Cossipore and Belgachhia, in north Calcutta, to prevent wastage.
The meters will show how much water a household is consuming.
If the reading shows that a household is consuming far more than the national per capita consumption, the family will be warned and told to mend ways.
Hakim said the meters would not be used to tax anyone. “We want to bring the entire city under the coverage of water meters. It would take time but we would do it in phases,” he said.
Source: The Telegraph