The ordinary meeting of the Coimbatore Corporation Council on Thursday witnessed a stream of complaints from councillors over the pace and quality of the implementation of development schemes and also on sanitation and maintenance of streetlights.
Led by Commissioner Anshul Mishra, the Corporation administration responded to each of the charges and explained how the civic body was squaring up to the challenge of monitoring the implementation and in ensuring hygiene in the city. The first of the charges was that quality of the underground drainage works was suspect. Leader of the Opposition and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member V.N. Udayakumar was the first to raise this charge. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member P. Rajkumar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) member and Corporation North Zone Chairman C. Padmanabhan and some other councillors expressed dissatisfaction over the quality of work.
“I had already asked for a special meeting on the drainage scheme. We want a detailed report on its implementation,” Mr. Padmanabhan said. Mr. Mishra and the officials overseeing the implementation of the Rs. 377-crore drainage scheme told the councillors that monitoring was being done and action initiated wherever the quality was found to be bad.
To a specific question from Mr. Rajkumar on the impact of vertical growth in the city on its sewer lines, Superintending Engineer, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, K. Bhoopathi said lines of appropriate size were being laid to ensure smooth flow of waste water.
Mr. Mishra said damaged roads would be re-laid. Under a special roads project cleared by the Government, 120 km of roads could be re-laid. But, not those that had been laid just a year ago, he said. Councillors, however, demanded that roads in markets and heavy traffic zones should be re-laid.
Councillors also complained of shoddy garbage removal from their wards. Health Committee Chairman P. Nachimuthu said the situation was not very bad. It was not to the extent of inviting a stream of complaints, he claimed.
Mr. Padmanabhan pointed out that only another 13 to 15 ordinary monthly meetings could be held as the local body elections would come up next year. There would not be much time for the present Council to discuss development issues. The CPI (M) member lamented that many works announced in the Corporation's budget had not been carried out since the present Council assumed charge (in late 2006).
“Reports in the media seem to register better with the officials than the suggestions made by members in the Council,” Mr. Padmanabhan said. He attributed the complaints of malfunctioning of streetlights to poor maintenance. “We had been against the awarding of private maintenance of lights in all four zones to one operator. But, the Corporation went ahead with it,” he alleged.
This had led to complaints and even CPI (M) councillor N. Murugesan carrying a lantern to the Council meeting to highlight the problem, he said. To Mayor R. Venkatachalam taking exception to the councillor's act, Mr. Padmanabhan argued that the member had not done anything wrong. “Have you not indulged in much bigger protests (when a councillor),” he asked the Mayor.
Some of the councillors demanded that they should be paid a salary of Rs. 20,000, in addition to the sitting fee of Rs. 800 a meeting paid now. The members said they deserved the salary as they had to work everyday for ensuring development in their wards. It was not appropriate to conclude that councillors worked only on the day they attended Council meetings, they said.