Staff Reporter

Council approves move by 37 votes against 23

CED is one of nine agencies certified by the Union government

‘Tax from shopping malls should be based on annual rent collected'

KOCHI: The Corporation decided to give the charge of operation and maintenance of the solid waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram to the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), amidst protests from the opposition bench.

Following the protest, Mayor Mercy Williams put the issue to vote. The council decided to approve the agenda by 37 votes against 23.

Initiating the discussion on the topic, Opposition leader A.B. Sabu said that the decision to award the contract to CED was made without following proper procedure. It is learnt that the agency was selected on the basis of a recommendation from a minister's office, he said.

In her reply, Ms. Williams said that CED is one among the nine agencies certified as Centre for Excellence on Urban Development by the Union Government and it has been selected as the implementing agency for solid waste management programmes taken up by local administration bodies in the State.

The agenda presented for the approval of the Council was also confusing on the issue. The agenda initially noted that finance standing committee on February 24 recommended it as 37 {+t} {+h} item in the list of decisions along with meeting of health and education standing committee that met on the same day. However, the decision of the finance standing committee was struck off the agenda in some of the copies distributed.

While M.S. Girish said that the issue was discussed at the standing committee meeting, T.J. Vinod said that the meeting took only 35 decisions and the observation that it was passed as 37 {+t} {+h} decision was improper. Participating in the discussion, N.A. Mani, chairman of health and education standing committee, said that any delay in operating the plant would lead to a crisis with the onset of the next monsoon and the opposition is planning to make political capital out of the issue in the next elections. M. Anilkumar, N. Venugopal and V.J. Hyacinth also spoke on the issue. Discussions were also held on the revision of rent to be collected from shops leased out by the Corporation and also assessing the tax from shopping malls. It was suggested that the tax should be assessed on the basis of the annual rental value of the building.

The council also decided not to consider the appeal moved by the person operating KCR Hotel at Kaloor. V.K. Baby, Additional Secretary, told the council that the Secretary had recommended that the hotel should be closed down on grounds of hygiene, as it could not give a recommendation for the building to be demolished citing it as dangerous structure, he said. Winding up the discussion on this, the Mayor said that the earlier council decision to demolish the building stands in this case and instructed the secretary to initiate necessary steps.