Councillor climbs atop table to protest against Chammany for ‘bypassing burning issues’ at council

The LDF councillors disrupted the Kochi Corporation council meetings on Wednesday, protesting against what they called the “anti-democratic” approach of Mayor Tony Chammany.

CPI (M) councillor Benedict Fernandez mounted atop a table placed before Mayor’s dais while Opposition councillors tore the council agenda into pieces and shouted slogans against the civic administration.

Mr. Fernandez, who earlier sat on the table used by the corporation staff who records the council proceedings, climbed atop the table and stood there shouting slogans and arguing with the UDF councillors for a few minutes. As the agitated opposition councillors stormed the Mayor’s dais, Mr. Chammany dissolved the council meeting.

Later, Mr. Chammany said suitable action would be taken against the councillor who violated the council decorum. Every councillor had the right to protest. However, Mr. Fernandez’s act was objectionable and action would be taken him as per law, he said.

The day’s proceedings revolved around the finding of the Tax Appeal Standing Committee of the Kochi Corporation, which had suggested tax rebate for a multi-storied showroom of Chennai Silks on MG road. The committee had absolved the textile showroom from charges of alteration of building permit conditions whereas the Special Squad of the Kochi Corporation and the Senior Town Planner (Vigilance) of the State government had indicted the shop for violating the permit conditions.

As the council met, Ratnamma Raju, chairperson of the Tax Appeal Standing Committee, demanded an inquiry by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau into the whole episode and action against a hotel that was functioning without valid permit at Vyttila.

N. Anilkumar, the CPI (M) councillor, who spearheaded the Opposition attack, accused the Mayor of breaking the promise given to the Opposition to discuss a few burning issues in the council. The Mayor chose to include the agenda related to Chennai Silks in the supplementary list of the council so as to avoid discussion on the subject, he said.

Though the Mayor had offered to discuss the progress of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, rehabilitation of people who were evicted from the banks of Perandoor canal and the permission for exhibiting advertisement boards on sodium vapour lamp posts, the meetings didn’t take place. The Opposition will not allow the council proceedings to be conducted if the Mayor functioned in an anti-democratic manner, he said.

K.J. Jacob, the CPI (M) leader in the council, and T.J. Vinod, the Congress councillor and the chairman of the Development Standing Committee of the corporation, too demanded a probe by the Bureau into the tax rebate.

Later, talking to reporters, Mr. Chammany said the demand for a Vigilance probe was turned down as the corporation had not suffered any pecuniary loss. The agenda regarding the textile shop was included in the supplementary list as the council had earlier decided on it, he said.

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