Special meet held on the basis of petition signed by 49 members

Mayor K. Chandrika has announced here that a joint discussion will soon be held involving Corporation officials and councillors on how to curb corruption and reduce conflict between the two sections, concluding a marathon four-hour special council session in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

The special meeting was called for on the basis of a petition signed by 49 members of the council. A special meeting was convened over a year ago on the subject of Vilappilsala waste treatment plant.

A number of scattered incidents involving altercations that, more than once, snowballed into physical attacks were brought up during the meeting. The two sides that make a civic body were at loggerheads with each other, an environment hardly conducive for smooth administrative functioning, several members of the United Democratic Front (UDF) said, claiming that it reflected the Mayor’s ineptness in resolving problems even within the Corporation council.

Some of those who spoke during the meeting suggested that all councillors work in tandem and not squabble across party lines.

However, most of them ended up contradicting themselves as their speeches were laced with snide remarks on the inadequacy of the other.

The state of the city roads was indicated by UDF councillors, who insisted that it was a sure sign of corruption in the works and engineering wings. LDF councillors said it was mostly the State-owned roads — the maintenance responsibility of which was with the Public Works Department headed by a UDF Minister — which were badly damaged.

The lack of accountability and supervision was consistently raised in the meeting. Without fear of persecution, contractors and officials would continue to slack off or charge bribes, said UDF’s Maheshwaran Nair. He rushed to add that there were a significant number of responsible workers who went beyond their job description to move projects along.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faction leader P. Ashok Kumar underlined the need for monitoring and also suggested that a public relations officer should be appointed, an officer who would act as a middle man between the people or councillors and officials.

“This person must be well-versed with the Municipality Act and must clearly point out where discrepancies lie and who is at fault,” he said, adding that the zonal offices should be brought under careful watch as well.

Staff shortage and abrupt transfer of officials was another issue that was discussed in the meeting.

“The largest Corporation in the State does not have a secretary or enough health officers,” said works standing committee chairman V.S. Padmakumar, stressing that there was nothing the Corporation could do in this regard since the onus of appointments and transfers lay with the State government.