Councillors resent the way S.M. Velusamy conducts Council meetings

The Coimbatore Corporation Council headed by Mayor S.M. Velusamy of the AIADMK on Tuesday passed many resolutions even without a semblance of debate in 15 minutes flat.

The Council cleared subjects that related to managing street dogs, poultry and vegetable wastes, debris, handing over a few roads to the State Highways Department, starting subsidised canteens (Amma Unavagam), preparing detailed project report for providing underground drainage facility for added areas among others.

The Mayor arrived at 11.30 a.m., administered the untouchability pledge to councillors and officials, read out the gist of the 13 subjects that were tabled for discussion and said that the subjects were passed and completed the exercise in 15 minutes.

There were only two interruptions – one from DMK councillor S.M. Samy, who wanted to raise a point regarding transfer of land to the Highways Department and another from CPM councillor V. Ramamoorthy. But the Mayor cut short the interruptions.

And by the time the Mayor had declared over the Council meeting, many councillors had not even signed the register to claim their sitting fee. The snacks distribution was also in full swing.

This prompted Deputy Commissioner S. Sivarasu to alert the councillors that they sign the register before leaving the Council hall.

The way the Mayor conducted the Tuesday’s meeting and several others in the past had invited criticism. A few members of the ruling AIADMK, on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Velusamy’s method of conducting Council meetings would only help the officials because he was not in the habit of allowing discussion on any subject. This would not bring in accountability into the system but only cover up wrongdoings on the part of officials. In the past, there were occasions when issues raised by even Independent councillors had promoted the then mayors to put on hold subjects for discussions. The then mayors would call for all party meetings or meetings with leaders of political parties to thrash out differences.

None of those had happened ever since Mr. Velusamy assumed office as the Mayor. Take for example the decision to construct a transit station near the sewage treatment plant in Ondipudur. There was no debate on the topic.

And there was none, either, on the April 25 fire accident that killed four persons.

Mr. Samy said that given the manner the Mayor conducted Council meetings, there would be no necessity for councillors to be present at the hall.

He only passed on information for which circulars were enough. Why invite councillors, give them sitting fee and also snacks. The Corporation could save money on the front as well.

By preventing councillors from raising issues, the Mayor deprived them of their opportunity to represent the public issues at the Council hall. There was no other avenue for them to do so.

Referring to the subject on purchasing vehicles for stray dogs, Mr. Samy said that there had been occasions when the Council proceedings had come to a standstill on the very subject. Councillors would fiercely debate issues and that made news the next day. But now, sadly, the Mayor allowed subjects to be passed without debate and that reflected the way he conducted the Corporation business.

Mr. Velusamy was not available for comment when The Hindu tried to reach him.

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