The proposed waste treatment plant at Chala took centre stage at the Corporation Council meeting on Tuesday with both the ruling front and the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) entering into yet another debate on who was to blame for the solid waste management crisis in the city.
The meeting was called to discuss spillover projects that needed to be included in the Plan fund 2013-14, but discussion on the issue was back-burnered when UDF councillor Mujeeb Rahman questioned the delay in signing the agreement on the setting up of the Chala plant. An argument on Malayalam grammar and the exact number of pages in the document spiralled into a lengthy debate between the two fronts, with one alleging that the State government’s apathy was to blame for the problem, and the other citing rules in the Municipality Act that lay the onus of waste management on the local body.
“During a previous Council meeting, the Mayor said the Chala plant agreement was an exhaustive document amounting to 1,000-odd pages, when in truth it comes only up to 128 pages,” Mr. Rehman said, calling for Mayor K. Chandrika’s apology.
In response, standing committee chairpersons S. Pushpalatha, Palayam Rajan, and V.S. Padmakumar pointed out that the Corporation had agreed to supply 35 tonnes of garbage to the plant.
In light of reports that labelled the company selected, Loro Green Energy Trading Private Ltd., as a fly-by-night enterprise whose works had previously been rejected by other countries, the civic body was completely justified in requesting time to examine the proposal in detail, irrespective of the number of pages it amounted to, they said.
When the ruling front brought up the cost incurred by the failed mobile incinerator project, the UDF councillors retorted that had the Corporation maintained the Vilappilsala waste treatment plant properly in the first place, the situation would not be so dire. They also indicated that the Left Democratic Front-led ruling front had a list of failed endeavours in its repertoire, such as the plastic shredding machines at Palayam, which were now lying idle.
“Once our lawyer studies the report, it will be presented before the Council and then we shall progress. We have plenty of reason to question the credibility of the Chala project,” the Mayor said, adding that she believed that George Chackacherry had resigned as the Executive Director of the Suchitwa Mission owing to the discrepancies in the deal.
On the Plan fund projects, the UDF councillors sought more time to study the report, and alleged that not enough information had been furnished on the amount spent on the projects and the balance amount.
The Council adopted the adjournment motion moved by Mr. Padmakumar, who is the Works standing committee chairman, on requesting the State government for more funds for road development.
The resolution said the Kochi Corporation had been allotted with Rs.9 crore more than the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation in the State Budget, when the expenses of the latter were almost double.