Seminar on water turns ugly

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Mumbai, Nov 13 (UNI) A seminar on water, organised by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), today turned ugly after fights and arguments took place between the elected representatives and citizens of K East ward.

During the seminar, Nitin, a local resident, said the BMC should work for a better water supply in the city and should not have alloted Rs 20 crore to private contractors to which Standing Committee chairman Ravindra Waikar said the decision of services and improvement was taken in a meeting of the Standing Committee and not in the seminar.

After his comments, Nitin, along with other citizens, accused Mr Waikar and Leader of the House Sunil Prabhu and other corporators, of being agents of foreign companies.

Taking objection to the accusation, Mr Waikar and Mr Prabhu abused the person that led to commotion in the hall. Nitin was also man-handled by Shiv Sainiks outside the hall, who were present in the seminar.

Mr Waikar was not allowed to leave the hall for more than an hour till he aplogised for his mistake.

Speaking to UNI, Mr Waikar said ''The person in question should have spoken on the debate but he made a general statement on the corporators which I, as corporator, cannot tolerate.'' The seminar, held at Dinanath Mangeshkar Hall in Vile Parle, was organised by the BMC following the collection of data on water supply by the international consultant Castillia. It was attended by NGOs, public, elected representatives and Additional Municipal Commissioner Manu Kumar Srivastava.

Mr Srivastava and Castillia consultants, in the report, mentioned that about 50 per cent water connections in the city are illegal. To which, the representatives of the NGOs countered that the number was less than 30 per cent.

This was the third seminar in the series and the first two did not yield any results as the corporation did not pay any heed to the suggestions given by the public, according to James John, a representative of Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), an NGO.

Mr John said ''Water cannot be privatised as the corporation is planning, because it will lead to chaos in the city, with water rates shooting up.'' He added ''The elected representatives should not loose their cool and they should understand that the public will protest if water supply is privatised.'' Mayor Shubha Raul was also gheraoed by the public present at the seminar for irregular water supply. She said the corporation will improve the irregular water supply in the city.

UNI

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