Special Correspondent

Many schemes not implemented: UDF

Contractors unwilling to take up projects

JNNURM fund unused for 2 years

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The annual budget of the City Corporation is scheduled to be presented by the Deputy Mayor on Wednesday even as the CPI(M)-led ruling LDF and the Opposition UDF gear up for the two-day debate on the budget proposals.

The Opposition maintains that the LDF leadership failed to implement the majority of the last year’s budget proposals or the schemes sanctioned by the Central government under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). UDF leaders point out that the funds sanctioned for JNNURM projects have been lying idle for almost two years.

LDF version

Countering this charge, Deputy Mayor V. Jayaprakash said only a few projects had failed to take off. He said the public works envisaged in the budget had been delayed because contractors were reluctant to take up projects in the light of the escalating price of construction materials. “While we could persuade contractors to initiate road works, they were reluctant to take up other construction works. Last month the government issued an order sanctioning market rate for approved projects. The pending projects are expected to take off soon.”

UDF deputy leader Beemapalli Rasheed said the absence of a mechanism for periodic review was responsible for failure in implementing proposals. “The brute majority enjoyed by the LDF in the council has lulled the them into a sense of complacency. There has been no constructive discussion in the steering or standing committees. With just 10 members in the 86-member council, the Opposition has not been able to stir up a debate in the council,” he said.

Burden of pensions

Mr. Jayaprakash said a considerable amount of the Corporation’s funds had to be spent on pension for municipal employees. This, he explained, had brought down the funds available for implementation of projects. “We have spent about Rs.10 crore on pension over the last four years. The Corporation has to foot the pension expense of even those staff who were transferred here towards the fag end of their career.”

Mr. Jayaprakash said the proposal to set up a labour bank was expected to take off this month. Referring to the proposal for a land bank, he said the Corporation had acquired 2.5 acres at Vilappilsala to expand the garbage treatment plant.

The Deputy Mayor said the proposed regeneration of markets had failed to take off because of the difficulty in acquiring land. He said the Corporation was preparing the estimate for modernisation of slaughterhouse at Kunnukuzhy.

According to the Opposition, the LDF has failed to utilise the favourable political atmosphere. Mr. Rasheed said the ruling coalition was guilty of criminal neglect. With an LDF government in power, there could not be a more conducive situation. The debate on the budget proposals is scheduled to take place on March 28 and 29.