Special Correspondent

DMK member's remark sparks trouble

TIRUCHI: In an extraordinary move, officials of the Tiruchi Corporation walked out in a huff from an ordinary meeting of the Corporation Council here on Friday irked over a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam councillor's remarks against the Commissioner.

The face-off between the officials and a section of the councillors came amidst high drama and as the culmination of a discussion on the distribution of the special flood relief package in the city. Members of the DMK, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and a couple of Independents too staged a walked out, blaming Corporation officials for the "denial" of the special flood relief package to residents in certain parts.

Just moments earlier, the agitated councillors trooped to the well of the House and squatted in front of the Mayor's table demanding an explanation why residents in some of the wards were not given the relief. Pointing out that only 38 wards in the city were considered to be flood affected, they alleged that the Corporation has failed to give a proper report to the district administration.

The councillors, on returning to their seats, took exception to the Commissioner, Harmander Singh's decision to ask the Executive Engineer, R. Chandran, to respond to the councillors' complaints and insisted on a reply from the Commissioner.

But Mr. Singh maintained that the EE was part of the civic administration and the councillors could not dictate terms on which official should reply.

DMK councillor G. Sathyamoorthy triggered a show-down after he told Mr. Singh to maintain the dignity of his high office and speak accordingly. Senior officials took strong exception to what they termed as "uncalled for remarks" from the councillor against the Commissioner. Heated exchanges were witnessed between senior officials and several DMK councillors following which all officials, except the Commissioner, walked out of the meeting hall.

The City Engineer, V. Sivaraman, Assistant Commissioners and all other senior officials were among those who walked out. The Mayor, Sarubala R. Tondaiman, tried in vain to restore order by explaining that the Collector had assured her that all genuinely affected residents would get the relief package after the verification of the petitions received from the them. Unsatisfied with her explanation, the DMK floor leader, Sami Iyya, led the walk-out.

The Deputy Mayor, M. Anbazhagan (DMK), also joined the walk-out.

VST decision soon

Earlier, in her introductory remarks at an urgent meeting, Mrs. Tondaiman said the Corporation had requested the Union Government to include Tiruchi under the list of towns selected for the implementation of the Bharat Nirman project though the city fell short of the requirement of a population of 10 lakh, to be eligible for the scheme.

The State Gvernment has accepted the Corporation's request for treating the city as a special case as it attracted a very high floating population. "We expect a substantial allocation under the scheme," she said.

Mrs. Tondaiman also stated that a favourable decision from the State Government was expected soon on the Corporation's demand for a reduction in the vacant site tax.