The City Corporation Council which met here on Friday expressed concern over the government's decision to delay elections to the Community Development Societies (CDS) under the Kudumbasree Mission.

A resolution adopted by the council said that the decision would undermine the Kudumbasree network and affect programmes for poverty alleviation and livelihood support. The discussion witnessed heated exchanges between the ruling and Opposition benches.

Chairman of the standing committee on Works V.S. Padmakumar alleged that the government was guided by the “desire to promote the UDF-sponsored Janasree movement as an alternative to Kudumbasree.”

Different versions

UDF councillors said the elections to CDS were delayed to rectify the anomalies caused by politicisation of the Kudumbasree network by the LDF. They said the method followed by the LDF for division of wards into CDS units was unscientific and politically biased. The ruling front said the revised constitution of CDS units was dictated solely by geographical compulsions. Deputy Mayor G. Happykumar said the failure to propose an alternative for the CDS units that complete their term on November 1 would lead to a crisis.

Mayor K. Chandrika told the Council that the Corporation would bring the government's attention to the increasing number of land-grab attempts and encroachments on public land. She was replying to allegations that the Corporation had failed to check rampant encroachments in the city.

At Mukkola

The discussion followed a motion moved by Kottapuram ward councillor Sadanandan Thayi highlighting an encroachment at Mukkola Junction. He said the encroachment was hampering the development of the Vizhinjam-Poovar road, a key route to the proposed international container transhipment terminal. Alleging that Revenue officials had fabricated records to facilitate the land grab, he demanded a probe into the issue.

Mr. Thayi's resolution triggered a flurry of charges about political parties using their clout to grab government land. Councillors accused their political rivals of building party offices on public land. Chairman of the Works standing committee V.S. Padmakumar said the first 100 days of the UDF government were marked by rampant encroachments from Kovalam to Kazhakuttam. He said the land mafia was making use of their connections with the UDF to encroach into government land.

Property tax

The Mayor said the City Corporation was committed to bringing all buildings into the property tax net. She said moves were on to assess all the buildings in the city for property tax. Special squads had been constituted to assess buildings, both under government and private ownership. She said 17 buildings within the Technopark campus had been assessed. “The standing committee on Taxes and Appeals is considering the review petition submitted for some of the buildings”.

Land for skating

Earlier, the council hall witnessed uproarious scenes when UDF and LDF councillors traded blows and shouted at each other. The clash occurred after the Opposition accused the Mayor of violating the oath of office and misleading the council on a notice issued by the Ombudsman for local bodies. The issue involved granting of permission for roller skating on land owned by the Corporation at Kowdiar.

The Mayor's statement that she would provide an explanation later failed to pacify the UDF councillors who rushed towards the dais demanding an immediate answer. This infuriated the LDF members who hurled themselves at the Opposition.

Intervention by the elders and the Mayor's plea to restore order went in vain as the two sides exchanged blows. Several councillors had their shirts torn in the melee. As the Opposition members started shouting slogans, the Mayor adjourned the meeting and left her seat. When the meeting resumed after ten minutes, Ms.Chandrika said the issue would be examined. She promised to take action against the RTI official who had given out the misleading information.