Special Correspondent

COIMBATORE: The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has demanded that Mayor R. Venkatachalam (Congress) should table a White Paper in the Coimbatore Corporation Council on how the civic body will fund infrastructure schemes under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Making this demand at the Council meeting on Monday, AIADMK member P. Rajkumar alleged that the Corporation initially wanted to increase Property Tax as it thought that this was one way of mobilising funds for infrastructure schemes (totally estimated at Rs.3,186 crore).

The Central Government will meet 50 per cent of the cost of projects through grants.

While the State Government has offered to meet 20 per cent through interest-free loans, the Corporation has to mobilise the balance 30 per cent. The Corporation mentioned in a note circulated at a recent all-party meeting that tax rates need to be raised as it was faced with the task of meeting a sizeable cost of the projects.

Mr. Rajkumar, who is the leader of the AIADMK in the Council, said that despite the rising prices of various commodities, the Corporation was forced to think of a tax raise only because of the mission schemes.

Resolution

The resolution moved on Monday by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) member and Leader of the Opposition V.N. Udayakumar, to put on hold the tax hike move, sought to silence the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India and the AIADMK for the present. But, Mr. Rajkumar felt that the Corporation was looking at taxes as the only option to mobilise funds for the schemes.

He wanted to know what other options of funding the Corporation had.

“There has been no clear statement in the Council on the sources of funding for the scheme that the Corporation has identified,” he said.

Deploring the lack of clarity on this front, he said it was time the Mayor placed a White Paper in the Council on how the Corporation would raise funds for the schemes, other than by raising or introducing taxes.

Accusing the Corporation of lack of transparency and concealing matters from the elected Council, he said this was a consequence of giving sky-high powers to officials. “When the JNNURM process began, all the parties had warned against concentrating too much of implementation powers in the Corporation Commissioner,” he said.

DMK member G.T. Rajendran pointed out that such an approach was actually adopted when an AIADMK member was the Mayor. Immediately, Mayor R. Venkatachalam said: “He (Mr. Rajkumar) knows it. That is why I kept quiet.”

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