The Corporation Budget for 2010-11 came in for severe criticism from the Opposition parties on Tuesday with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam combine and the Left parties staging walk outs during the Budget discussion at the Corporation Council on Tuesday.
While the AIADMK-MDMK councillors staged a protest condemning the lack of new development initiatives in the budget, members of the Left were protesting the “meagre allocation” for development of suburban areas and the move to privatise maintenance of street lights.
Setting the tone of the meeting, AIADMK Floor Leader J. Srinivasan charged that people's issues had been neglected in the budget and it was devoid of long term plans. Despite repeated complaints from councillors cutting across political lines at recent council meetings, the budgetary allocation for health and sanitation was very meagre.
Development projects hanging fire
The Education Fund should be utilised properly to improve the infrastructure of Corporation schools on a par with private institutions. Major issues and development projects have been hanging fire for years together. There has been no end to the indecision over setting up an integrated bus stand and shifting the Gandhi Market, both issues pending for more than a decade, he said.
His party colleague, N. Mariam Pitchai charged that budget making has been reduced to a meaningless exercise to deceive the public as several projects announced in previous budgets were yet to be implemented. He also criticised the absence of ward-wise details of the proposed works in the Budget.
Privatising street light maintenance
O.R. Sriraman of the Communist Party of India and C. Kannan of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) opposed privatising maintenance of street lights and maintained that it would only lead to corruption and problems.
Both the Left members demanded the shifting of the Ariyamangalam garbage dump and criticised the Corporation move to take up new garbage compacting project there.
Mr. Sriraman cautioned the officials against falling into a debt trap through excessive borrowings and emphasised the need for increasing the revenue by building commercial complexes in Yanaikulam and other Corporation properties.
He demanded the appointment of more doctors and sanitary workers to improve health and sanitation in the city. He demanded steps to build new road overbridges at Railway Junction, Fort Station Road and Thiruvanaikovil.
Mr. Kannan complained that suburbs have been languishing without proper amenities over the past 15 years and the allocation in the budget was not adequate.
Multi-storeyed commercial complexes
Jerome Arockiaraj of the Congress welcomed the budget and suggested building multi-storeyed commercial complexes for increasing the Corporation revenue.
A. Abdul Nissar of MGR Kazhagam welcomed the plan to improve the city roads under the Tamil Nadu Urban Road Infrastructure Project.
R. Mookan of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam also suggested that building commercial complexes in Yanaikulam and other Corporation property would help meet the deficit in the Budget.
Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam member A. Joseph Gerald regretted that the budget has not given due importance to major development projects.
Though the Corporation has planned to extend the underground sewer system to omitted areas, no survey has been done so far.
Commissioner T.T. Balsamy in his reply maintained that several major works, including the drinking water augmentation scheme and road development works, have been implemented in the city over the last year.
The Corporation was expecting the sanction of major funds under schemes such as the JNNURM and also already drawn up proposals.
“Walkouts for political reasons”
Mayor S. Sujatha found fault with the Opposition members for staging “walkouts for political reasons.” Steps were being taken to establish an integrated bus stand, she assured and expressed the hope that the case relating to the construction of a commercial complex at Yanaikulam would be disposed of this year.