Mayor V.V. Rajan Chellappa has proposed Azhagia Madurai Maanagar (AMMA) Thittam to be implemented in all the 100 wards of Madurai Corporation with a one-time expenditure of Rs. 2 crore.
Under the scheme, 600 workers would be employed to take care of the basic services such as drinking water supply, underground drainage, removal of garbage, mosquito eradication and other works in the wards. One ward each in the four zones would be selected on a given day and 150 employees deployed there.
The workers would take up works to plug leakage in pipelines, patch up work to fill potholes on roads, construct damaged manholes, provide new water connections and take up maintenance works in Corporation schools and hospital buildings.
The debate over the Madurai Corporation’s budget presented on Monday was lacklustre. While the absence of any major new schemes could have been a reason for the dull debate, it could also be that the councillors had no time to prepare for the debate as the budget copies were handed down at the last minute.
Budget copies are usually given four days in advance so that the councillors have the time to study its details.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam members raised the issue and staged a walkout in protest. The lone Communist Party of India (Marxist) member, M. Chellam, too raked up the issue. Except for S. D. Jeyabalan, who spoke for a few minutes, councillors of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, including zonal chairpersons and Standing Committee chairpersons spoke, for a couple of minutes.
Ms. Chellam asked the Mayor how she was expected to go through the details and deliberate on the budget. The Mayor responded saying that the AIADMK councillors were able to speak on it. He added that last year the budget copies were distributed at the last minute at the council hall.
While the AIADMK councillors welcomed the budget describing it as development-oriented, the party member, Kannagi Baskaran, wondered how the hike in the ward development fund to Rs. 10 lakh a year was going to benefit the members when the Rs. 5 lakh announced last year had not been disbursed.
The Mayor clarified that the fund would not be given to the councillor directly. Councillors would have to submit proposals for works to be taken up in their wards to the prescribed amount.
Ms. Chellam wanted the Corporation to start English medium schools to meet the growing aspirations of parents. On the demand for the local body to start a college, Mr. Chellappa said that the government had given permission to start only self-financing colleges.
“Without aid towards salary for the teaching and non-teaching staff, we cannot afford to have huge recurring expenditure. We have land and can also invest on the building infrastructure. But we can go ahead with the project only if we get aid from the government,” he said.
The meeting came to an end before 12 noon as not many councillors volunteered to speak.
Commissioner R. Nanthagopal and Deputy Mayor R. Gopalakrishnan were present.