Staff Reporter

Allegations of corruption come up at council meeting

‘Illegal structure coming up in Vellar ward’

Stormy scenes over attack on clay factory

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The City Corporation would undertake a major reform programme to ensure transparency in the functioning of the Town Planning department, Mayor C. Jayan Babu said here on Monday.

Presiding over a meeting of the Corporation Council, he assured councillors that allegations about corruption in the department would be looked into. Ruling and Opposition councillors had accused corrupt officials in the Town Planning section of fleecing the public.

The issue came up for discussion after Vellar ward councillor G.S. Bindu brought to the Mayor’s notice an illegal structure coming up in her ward. Ms. Bindu said that the building, with a permit for two storeys, was being extended to five storeys against norms with the connivance of some officials. She alleged that the officials assessed the building and even issued TC numbers before the construction was completed.

Councillor S. Unnikrishnan added that the officials who gave permit for the construction of the illegal structure had apparently been paid more than Rs.10 lakh as bribe. He also cited other instances of malpractices by building inspectors and other officials of the Town Planning department. Deputy Mayor V. Jayaprakash demanded the cancellation of the permit of the illegal structure

Intervening in the debate, Mayor C. Jayan Babu assured the house that strong action would be taken against the officials who sanctioned the illegal structure. He said that the permit of the building would be cancelled after inquiry.

“We are receiving a number of complaints regarding the functioning of the Town Planning department. There are also allegations about touts having a free hand in the affairs of the department. Taking these matters into consideration, the Corporation will soon hold a meeting to discuss a reform programme,” he said.

Computerisation

Mr. Babu added that the operations of the department would be computerised for better transparency.

The council meeting witnessed some stormy scenes after Deputy Mayor V. Jayaprakash alleged the involvement of Congress party workers in the torching of the Ashapura Mine Chem Limited clay factory at Menamkulam last week. He was responding to an adjournment motion by councillor Veli Varghese demanding intervention by the State government on the issue. Mr. Jayaprakash said the attack on the clay factory was part of a conspiracy hatched by political and religious leaders of the locality.

The Deputy Mayor’s allegation was vehemently opposed by the Opposition who accused him of politicising the issue. UDF council party leader Johnson Joseph said that the Deputy Mayor should prove his words before making such serious allegations. Intervening in the issue, the Mayor said that investigating the involvement of miscreants in the attack was the duty of the police and not the Corporation council.

Road works

The tardy progress of road works in various wards was also discussed by the council. Kannammoola councillor R. Satheesh Kumar said that a number of road works sanctioned by the Corporation had been pending for more than a year. Councillor Kunnukuzhy Manoharan pointed out that the work on the AKG Centre-Kunnukuzhy road was delayed by more than three years. The Mayor directed works standing committee chairman Puthankada Vijayan to either re-tender or start the works immediately.

In response to councillor Mr. Manoharan’s allegation of poor upkeep of parks in the city, the Mayor said that the Corporation would soon evolve a system to verify the work and attendance of gardeners appointed by the Corporation. The council on Monday also adopted a resolution moved by chairman of the standing committee on health and education G.R. Anil urging the Central government to reduce the price of petroleum products.

Earlier, the council also congratulated the team from Thiruvananthapuram district which bagged the overall trophy in the recently concluded Keralotsavam.

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