Solar scam found resonance in the Kochi corporation council meeting on Wednesday as the Opposition councillors criticised Kochi Mayor for receiving an award and cash prize from Team Solar, the firm which has been embroiled in the scam.
Raising the issue in the council, the CPI (M) councillor K.N Sunilkumar said it was improper for the Mayor to receive the award under the pretext that it was a personal recognition for him. If it was the award for the programme of the local body, which was mentioned in the annual budget, the council should have been informed. If it is a personal award, then Mr. Chammany should make it clear whether he was running any private firms engaged in energy conservation projects for which awards were presented, he demanded.
At the outset, Mr. Chammany should have rejected the award as the civic body had not done anything in the city for conserving energy, Mr. Sunilkumar said.
He was also critical of the Mayor personally encashing the cheque of Rs. 25,000 which was presented by the firm. Mr. Sunilkumar also asked how the Mayor would be returning the money as those who presented the award had landed in police custody.
M. Anilkumar of the CPI (M) also criticised the civic head for “accepting bribe,” which was disguised as a cash award. The Mayor committed a serious mistake by keeping the council in the dark about the award and sending the cheque for realisation of money to his personal account. The Mayor should have at least donated the money for some charity, he said.
Replying to the debate, Mr. Chammany said the organisers had told him that the award was for energy efficient lighting system of the city. Though the award was accepted, the group was not extended any favours. No deal was struck between the firm and the corporation, he said.
He accepted that the Opposition contention that the money should have been donated for charity.
“As the controversy over the award ceremony broke out, I had expressed my intention to return the money,” he said.
The cheque was issued in the name of Tony Chammany and there were no references about Kochi Mayor in the cheque leaf. Legal opinion will be sought on ways in which the money received as award could be returned.
Mr. Chammany informed the council that the civic body had sought explanations from the contractors who had blacktopped the roads, which were damaged in the recent rain. The contractors would be asked to repair them, he said.