Staff Correspondent

The Kuttethur civic body says it has not been informed of the project

Construction work has been taken up following instruction from Deputy Commissioner

Gram panchyat says it has not sanctioned the project work

MANGALORE: The residents of Kuttethoor may have to wait longer for drinking water following a new controversy.

The Permude gram panchayat on Saturday raised an objection to the drinking water facility being created by Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemical Ltd (MRPL) at Kuttethoor through a local contractor. The panchayat complained that it had been kept in the dark about the proposal and has sought to take over the work from the contractor to ensure quality.

The wells at Kuttethoor had been contaminated owing to seepage of oil contents from the MRPL, even as the water in the Atturkodi pond had become unfit for drinking sometime ago. The oil contents and the petroleum smell was noticed in many wells in the surrounding areas, depriving people of drinking water for quite some time now. Acting on the instruction of Deputy Commissioner, the MRPL assigned Thomas Fernandes, a resident of Kuttettoor, the work of constructing an elevated platform to keep water tanks from where it planned to lay pipelines and supply drinking water to the people. As the work was under way, the Permude gram panchayat raised an objection to the construction of the platform and laying of pipelines.

President of the panchayat Keshav Devadiga said that he had not been kept informed of the project nor had the civic body sanctioned it. Claiming that he had been “orally intimated” of the project, he said no earth breaking ceremony was conducted before taking up the construction of the platform for the tank.

Mr. Fernandes, however, said that MRPL had given a letter to the panchayat informing it about the “Rs. 6-lakh contract,” given to him.

Mr. Fernandes claims to have continued with the construction work after informing the panchayat that he had taken up the work following an order from Deputy Commissioner.Accepting that an objection had been raised by the Permude gram panchayat, its secretary M.V. Murnal told The Hindu that the people would blame the panchayat for any problems with the quality of work. Hence, the panchayat had suggested that the contract be given to it so that it could ensure “quality work”. Alternatively, he suggested a “joint contract” between the panchayat and Mr. Fernandes.

Members of the Permude gram panchayat, according to a member Murnal, have decided to meet on Monday to discuss the issue. Its president refused to comment.