Opposition in Corporation Council terms it a total flop

The City Corporation Council, on Monday, witnessed a war of words between the Treasury and Opposition members over the inordinate delay in implementing the EMS Housing Scheme.

Terming the scheme a total flop, United Democratic Front (UDF) benches said officials were posing hurdles to keep it bogged down. They alleged that the amount earmarked for purchase of land was ridiculously inadequate, given the fair price of land announced by the government.

Left Democratic Front (LDF) councillors said the process of identifying beneficiaries for the scheme, though delayed, was well on track.

Indian Union Muslim League council party leader Beemapally Rashid said the housing scheme was bogged down in technicalities.

He said applicants, especially those from the coastal areas, were forced to run from pillar to post to secure documents.

Kannanthura councillor Solomon Vettucaud said building rule regulations and the Coastal Regulation Zone norms were making the scheme's implementation difficult in the coastal belt.

Congress leader K. Maheswaran Nair said the government was mocking at the landless beneficiaries of the scheme by announcing an assistance of Rs.50,000 to purchase two cents of land. “With land costing upwards of Rs.1.5 lakh in the city, the assistance is far too inadequate. The scheme will never take off,” he said.

Poundukadavu ward councillor and UDF leader Veli Varghese alleged that the LDF-ruled Corporation had failed to follow up a resolution adopted by the council last year urging the government to release three acres of land in his constituency. “The land could have been utilised to construct houses for 100 families or apartments for more. It would take only a week for the transfer of land but the Corporation has failed to initiate action.” He alleged that the proposal had been scuttled for political reasons.

UDF council party leader Johnson Joseph said the scheme was a total failure in the Corporation.

Chairman of the standing committee on Welfare S.A. Sundar said a meeting would be convened in two days to sort out the hurdles in finalising the list of beneficiaries.

Mayor C. Jayan Babu told the House that efforts would be made to expedite the implementation of the scheme.

The council adopted a resolution urging the government to augment the staff strength in the Corporation and deploy additional hands as a temporary measure to handle the workload.

Moving the resolution, chairman of the Health standing committee G.R. Anil said health and sanitation activities were badly affected by the shortage of staff. “Despite working on every holiday since January, employees in the Birth and Death Registration section are finding it difficult to keep up.”

Mr. Anil said the shortage of bill collectors and engineering staff was made worse by the deployment of employees on Census duty. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

The Mayor said efforts were on to assess the workload of employees in the Corporation. The report would be presented in the council before it was submitted to the government, he said.

UDF councillors highlighted the miserable condition of roads dug up by utility services for laying cables and pipes.

Vanchiyoor councillor Mohan said the LDF-ruled Corporation had failed to honour its commitment to repair all roads within three months. The budgetary allocation had not been utilised, he said.

Chairman of the Works standing committee Puthenkada Vijayan said the process of preparing the estimate for road repairs was on.