Donations are voluntary and not compulsory: association
The collaboration between residents around the 611-acre Vandiyur water body here and the Public Works Department to deepen the tank bed was mired in controversy on Monday with a Corporation councillor accusing some resident welfare associations and others of demanding money from residents.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) councillor A. Jayakumar, representing ward number 30, claimed that he had submitted a representation to Collector L. Subramanian charging Gomathipuram Thendral Nagar Residents Association and Vandiyur Tank Water Source Augmentation Federation with collecting Rs.500 to Rs.1,000 from every resident. When Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had allocated Rs.1.25 crore for the restoration of the water body, the councillor said that it was unnecessary for private organisations to engage in fund collection.
“Such collection of money, especially at a time when the Parliamentary elections are approaching, would defame the State government,” he observed.
Gomathipuram Thendral Nagar Residents Association secretary T. Bagavathy conceded that his association had distributed pamphlets requesting the residents to donate a minimum of Rs.500 per household, but said that the donations were purely voluntary.
“ People are donating money willingly because they are affected by the acute water shortage. We are maintaining accounts for every penny received from the public and they are open to scrutiny,” he said.
M.A. Mohammed Sulthan, vice-president of the Vandiyur Tank Water Source Augmentation Federation, said: “ The councillor should not derail a good initiative.”
Insisting there had been no misappropriation of funds, he said that a flex board containing details of high value donors was displayed for public viewing outside the Walker’s Club adjacent to the water tank.
The collector said the councillor had forwarded the representation to the Chief Minister’s special cell in Chennai set up for the redressal of public grievances and marked a copy to him. “He did not meet me in person. I received the representation only through fax. I have asked the PWD officials to look into the issue and file a report,” he said.
Advocate S. Muthukumar, who accompanied the councillor to the collectorate on Monday, said that in November 2004, then Collector D. Raajendiran had filed a report before the Madras High Court Bench here claiming that the Vandiyur tank had shrunk from its original size of 691.26 acres to 639.02 acres, as 52.24 acres were either encroached upon or put to other use.
“The tank has shrunk further in the last nine years and is now spread over an area of 611 acres. The need of the hour is to prevent encroachment,” he said.