The Chennai Corporation Council meeting on Wednesday witnessed councillors across all parties asking for the restoration of zero hour. This would provide councillors with time to talk about problems in their wards and also raise issues pertaining to the public.
The previous Council had had a zero hour, when the Mayor gave councillors the opportunity to talk. But after the present set of councillors took over, the practice was done away with, they said.
Speaking during the discussion, A. Palani, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Health, said that as such, the zero hour was part of Assembly proceedings. During question hour councillors could not discuss current issues, he added.
Responding to Mr. Palani, Mayor Saidai S Duraisamy said that the Council need not follow procedures of the Assembly. Holding a zero hour in the council meeting was not in the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act or in the guidelines issued by the Election Commission. However, he said, he would look into the issue and if more councillors wanted it, it would be introduced.
The DMK's Subhash Chandra Bose said that zero hour was very much a part of the Council's proceedings. “Removing it from the proceedings has taken away the right of the councillor to raise issues. We can even discuss several problems at the same time and get a response from the Mayor or officials. In the question hour, only one question can be raised,” he said.
The DMK staged a walkout when Mr. Bose was not permitted to make a point on the issue of allotting an office to the Kolathur MLA and former Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin.
As he started speaking about the subject during the discussion on resolutions, he was asked to speak only about the resolution being discussed.
A total of 64 resolutions, including one to lease out land in Tiruvottiyur to the Chennai Port Trust for a period of 30 years for construction of a container truck parking yard, were passed by the council. From the date of handing over of the land, the civic body would get Rs. 12.66 lakh as rent every month, and this amount would be increased by 15 per cent annually.
Another significant resolution that was passed pertained to extending English, as a medium of instruction, to 30 additional primary and middle schools, run by the Chennai Corporation. At present, 69 Chennai Schools have English medium sections in them.
Resolutions pertaining to holding music competitions for students of Chennai Schools, setting a timetable for parent-teacher associations and to conduct short-term courses were also passed.