SALEM: The Salem Corporation’s budget meeting on Friday witnessed unruly scenes, with the members of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) shouting and jostling against each other in the well of the council hall. Trouble began when Mayor J. Rekha Priyadarshini did not allow the Opposition members to speak during the ordinary meeting.
Within a few minutes after the beginning of the ordinary meeting, the Mayor declared that the session was over in order to start the special budget meeting.
Protesting against this, the AIADMK members rushed to the well of the council hall and entered into a heated argument with the Mayor. When a few DMK members opposed the behaviour of the Opposition members, the situation become uncontrollable. Shouting at each other, members of both the parties jostled against each other. The AIADMK members walked out of the hall accusing the ruling party of stifling the opposition voice. They, however, returned to the hall after a few minutes.
When the Mayor began her budget speech, Opposition leader G. Venkatachalam demanded that he be allowed to express his views in the council. This again led to a heated exchange between the ruling and Opposition members.
The Mayor continued to read the budget. While the ruling party members welcomed the budget, the Opposition members expressed disappointment.
Mr. Venkatachalam, during the debate, termed the budget as an ‘old wine in new bottle.’ For, most of the schemes, which found a mention in the document, had been announced years ago. The dedicated water supply scheme, solid waste management scheme and a number of other programmes were repeated in the budgets presented in the last two years, he pointed out. “The civic body keeps making promises. But it has grossly failed to implement any major programmes,” the Opposition members said.
In the post-lunch session of the budget debate, only 12 councillors and three zonal chairmen out of 60 remained in their seats.
“This best explains the lack of interest among the councillors in matters relating to public welfare,” the people alleged.
Many people also expressed their disappointment over the budget announcements. Programmes such as solid waste management were repeatedly mentioned in the budget document. But the city did not witness any significant improvement at the field level.
The people wanted the Corporation to implement all the pending schemes without delay and come up with programmes to improve the living conditions in the city.