Opposition contests Mayor’s claim on awards

The first day of discussions on the City Corporation’s Budget for 2014-15 was along expected lines, with the councillors from both sides expanding on their post-budget press conference comments. While the Opposition councillors repeated their allegations of repetition of promises from the past years, the ruling party councillors opted for the line of defence that most of the ‘repeating projects’ are ongoing projects spread over several years.

One of the major criticisms levelled by the Opposition, which was repeated by several of its councillors during the day, was on the Mayor’s claim that it had won four awards for the successful execution of projects under the Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP), Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). The opposition’s stand was that it was not right on part of the civic body authorities to claim credit for projects executed with Central funds. They also criticised the ruling front for “not implementing a single project in the previous financial year using own fund.” They said that all the projects were either aided by the State or Centre.

But the ruling councillors hit back by saying that though the central funds are allocated equally to all civic bodies, only the best performers get the award. They also cited the fact that the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation has better utilisation of its plan funds compared to other Corporations.

The Opposition also attacked the ruling front for not setting aside more funds for waste management. Also, the lack of enough projects to tackle the stray dog menace was also brought up. Blame was also placed on the civic authorities for not taking an effort to reopen the slaughter house at Kunnukuzhy. The ruling councillors brought up the figures of pipe composts set up at individual houses and biogas plants at several locations to counter this.

The ruling party was also criticised for ‘poor tax collection’. The Opposition alleged that the civic body is yet to collect tax amounting to Rs 50 crore.

The discussion will continue on Tuesday and the budget will be put to vote.