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Updated: July 7, 2011 07:44 IST

Parties close ranks to plead for aid

Special Correspondent
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Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy.
The Hindu Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy.

Council team meets Oommen Chandy

An all-party delegation from the Thiruvananthapuram city Corporation Council, on Wednesday, moved the government with a representation calling for assistance to tide over the financial crisis faced by the urban civic body.

The delegation, led by Mayor K. Chandrika, met Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Finance Minister K.M. Mani, and Urban Affairs Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty.

Ms. Chandrika said Mr. Chandy was apprised of the crisis faced by the local body in carrying out its functions. “Delegates from all the parties helped to put the message across and convince the Chief Minister of the need for urgent action.”

She said the three Ministers had agreed to consider the points raised in the representation. “It was decided to convene an all-party meeting at the Corporation headquarters on July 20 to discuss the financial situation of the local body, and identify means to overcome the crisis,” she said.

The representation was accompanied by a list of public buildings, including the Assembly complex, headquarters of the Kerala Water Authority, and several Public Works Department buildings that had run up almost Rs.80 crore as dues on property tax over the years.

Works hit

Ms. Chandrika said the lack of adequate funds was crippling the development of civic amenities and infrastructure. She said the situation was aggravated by the mounting dues on disbursement of pension funds from the government.

The representation submitted by the delegation urged the government to make budgetary allocation for the heavy dues.

The list of property tax defaulters was prepared by the Corporation as part of an intensive revenue drive held last month.

The local body is looking for means to augment its revenue sources, and prevent the current financial crisis from spinning out of control. It is finding it increasingly difficult to complete ongoing projects and take up new ones. The failure to settle the strike by contractors has virtually brought all public works, including road repair and maintenance, to a complete halt. The contractors are demanding immediate payment of the dues of Rs.50 crore.

The Corporation-level steering committee of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) that met on Wednesday decided to take on the contractors in view of their inflexible stand. At the next meeting of the Corporation Council on Monday, the Public Works standing committee will move a resolution proposing the formation of beneficiary committees, on the lines of those created for the People's Plan Campaign, to take up works utilising Plan funds and maintenance grant.

A senior civic functionary said past experience in managing Plan projects with beneficiary committees would make it an effective alternative. The social monitoring aspect of the mechanism would be an added benefit, he added.

Efforts are on to find a negotiated settlement to the strike. A section of the contractors is learnt to have agreed to a compromise formula.

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