Staff Reporter

`Almost 50 per cent of the shops in Municipal complexes are unoccupied'

DHARAPURAM: Piling garbage, clogged drains, delayed water supply, dirty streets, fused street bulbs, ill-maintained municipal buildings, absence of public convenience facilities, among others dominated the Dharapuram Municipality's fourth Council meeting on Wednesday.

As soon as the meeting began, R. Muthumani, Ward 22, rose to demand an explanation for the councillors' suggestions not finding a place in subjects to be passed by the Council.

"It has been three months since I requested the Municipal authorities to include my suggestions and to date I have not seen any. Why are some councillors' demands not finding place," he asked and wanted to know if it was the Municipality's step-motherly treatment.

Next it was the turn of councillor R. Sukumar of Ward 27 to vent his grievances. He started with a stagnant sewerage troubling residents. "For the past 15 days, sewerage is clogged and the stench that comes from it is unbearable at Anna Nagar and neighbouring areas. Compounding the problem is mosquitoes," he said and complained that his efforts to bring it to the notice of sanitary officials have failed.

He then touched upon irregularities in drinking water supply. By the day, the supply was decreasing and the ensuing summer at the present rate would be `very grave'. He said he had reasons to believe that the promised 40 lakh litres a day from the Cauvery Combined Drinking Water Supply scheme was not delivered and wanted to know what steps the civic body had initiated to supply water to the town.

The same concern was shared by almost all the councillors, who complained that areas in their wards were getting poor, irregular water supply.

Mr. Sukumar also raised the issue of shops in Municipal complex remaining unoccupied. "Almost 50 per cent of the shops in Municipal complexes are unoccupied. What steps have been initiated to let the shops on lease," he asked.

A few other councillors who joined issue said the vacancy was largely due to the `unrealistic' advance fixed by the civic body. "When private shops right next to the Municipal complex charge around Rs. 5,000, how do you expect the traders to pay Rs. 25,000 deposit to rent our shops," they asked.

Municipal Commissioner A. Sultana defended saying the rent had already been reduced from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 50,000 and now Rs. 25,000.

Dharapuram Bus Stand also came in for sharp criticism from councillors. The officials, though maintained silence to most complaints, defended a few decisions and offered explanations for a few others.

Dharna staged

The overall hygiene of the town came became the subject of acrimonious debate among councillors, who charged the authorities of ignoring even basic cleaning work. The area under focus moved from bus stand to streets to Municipal buildings and finally ended at the Council Hall itself.

Ward 28 Councillor C. Varadarajan drew the attention of the Chairman and pointed to the poor up upkeep of the hall. Soon, other councillors joined him and staged a short dharna inside the hall demanding cleaning of the hall first and then the town.

"Let the authorities first maintain the hall and then let's talk about the town," quipped a councillor.