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26 Jan 2022, 05:08 HRS IST
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  • TMC will sweep KMC polls, master plan to be prepared to deal with cyclones: Firhad Hakim

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17:8 HRS IST

Kolkata, Dec 1 (PTI) The ruling TMC will tide over the challenges that come its way during the upcoming KMC polls by using the momentum of its victory in assembly elections, said former Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim, while sharing his vision for the city's development in the next few years

Hakim, who is confident of winning the elections from ward number 82, also stated that a master plan will be prepared soon to help the city cope better with the effects of cyclone

The state transport minister further said that his 10-point vision for the city will improve waste management and ensure supply of drinking water to every household, besides addressing the environment-related issues

\"The development that the TMC board (in the civic body) has brought about since 2010 and the state government since 2011 is enough to ensure our victory in the KMC polls. After our success in the assembly polls, under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, the party's victory in the KMC polls is a foregone conclusion,\" he maintained

In an interview with PTI, Hakim said the party is confident of bagging at least 135-140 wards in the 144-member civic body

He asserted that BJP's \"communal politics will not yield any result\", as was the case during the state elections, held earlier in the year

\"The BJP has a habit of promoting communal narratives during elections. In the assembly polls, too, we had seen how it had tried to flare up communal tension. But let me make this clear, this time, too, the saffron party will be defeated,\" the minister contended

\"I am known for the work I have done and not because of my identity. I celebrate Eid and also conduct Durga Puja. That's how people have been living in Kolkata for centuries; the BJP won't be able to change that,\" the first Muslim mayor of the city since Independence said

Hakim, considered one of the trusted aides of Mamata Banerjee, took over as the mayor of Kolkata in December 2018 after Sovan Chatterjee resigned from the post and other ministerial positions due to personal reasons

Asked why the TMC did not put forth a mayoral face, unlike the 2015 KMC polls, he said it is a call taken by the party's top leadership

\"I have been assigned a job by Mamata Banerjee and will do my best to deliver it,\" he said

Talking about his 10-point plan, Hakim further explained, \"From beautification, ease of taxation, better management of waste products to ensuring more greenery and improvement of the drainage system, a master plan will be prepared to help Kolkata cope better with the devastation that accompanies a cyclone.\"

A team of workers will be trained to clear the destruction left behind by the cyclones in the smartest way possible -- much like what NDRF and SDRF personnel do, Hakim said

\"Modern equipment will either be hired or purchased to clear roads as early as possible. The drainage system will be upgraded through the process of desilting, and high-powered machines will be installed at the pumping stations to prevent waterlogging,\" he said

The KMC had faced public ire in May 2020 after Cyclone Amphan left behind a trail of destruction, blocking several thoroughfares in the city that had plunged into darkness owing to a power cut

Hakim, however, stated that the \"KMC had done a good job\" and it was the private power supply provider that was \"ill-equipped\" to tackle the effects of a cyclone

\"Post Amphan, we cleared the roads in three days. People were angry as the power supply remained disrupted for several days and that, too, in May,\" he said

The minister also said that the civic body has plans to lay underground cables

\"Steps will be taken to ensure that all the cables run underground or there will be a sort of a cable train... so that it neither causes visual pollution nor get affected by cyclones,\" he explained

The senior TMC leader said that the KMC is mulling the possibilities of building a waste management factory in the city for better handling of dry and wet garbage

\"We will come up with more garbage compactors. We have plans to develop a waste management factory in the city, where there will be different segments for better management of solid and wet waste. For example, the building material waste will be crushed into sand and used to build roads

\"Also, measures would be taken to increase green cover, and fogging systems will be put in place in areas where pollution levels are generally high,\" he underlined

To a question about the apparent divide between Bengalis and non-Bengalis in Kolkata, Hakim replied that it was best to not to make a remark on issues that could polarise people

\"Look, I can't comment on the Bengali-non-Bengali issue. If I do that, there will be no difference between me and the communal BJP. But yes, steps are being taken to ensure that Kolkata residents don't leave the city. For this, we are easing taxation rules and doling out land deeds,\" he said

In an effort to provide clean drinking water to every household, Hakim said, the water reservoir capacity will be enhanced from 30 million gallons to 50 million gallons in the next few years

\"We will come up with a treatment plant that will increase the production of purified drinking water from 30 million gallons to 50 million gallons. We are still providing deep tube well water. If the new project is implemented, there won't be any problem in supplying drinking water to households, at least for the next 50 years,\" he said

As part of the city's beautification process, street hawkers would be provided with small kiosks to sell their wares, he added

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls will be held on December 19, and votes will be counted two days later, on December 21

Elections to KMC, along with 112 other municipal bodies, are due since April-May 2020. Polls were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic

As of now, state-appointed boards of administrators are running the civic bodies.

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