Controversy over OFC posts refuses to die down in Kochi Corporation

The controversy over erecting posts along city streets for laying optical fibre cable (OFC) refuses to die down.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took up the issue on Wednesday by taking out a protest march and organising a public meeting in this regard.

BJP leaders alleged that the deal was mired in corruption, and the civic authorities cleared the proposal from three telecom companies with undue haste.

One of the telecom companies, which came forward for the project, owed the Kochi Corporation a significant amount. When the issue of permitting the companies to erect posts came up at the Steering Committee meeting of the Kochi Corporation, the BJP had demanded that permission be issued only after clearing dues, said Priya Prasanth, a BJP leader in the council. The Mayor cleared the project next day by using his powers to give anticipatory permission, she alleged.

Ms. Prasanth also alleged that the corporation was clueless about the number of poles that would be erected in the city, which could cause financial loss to the civic body.

Mayor’s stance

Responding to the developments, Mayor M. Anilkumar said the project was cleared in a transparent manner, and care would be taken to prevent any possible loss of revenue. The dues were also collected from the company concerned, he said.

Besides discussing the proposal in the Steering Committee meeting of the Kochi Corporation, which had representatives of the LDF, UDF, and BJP in it, the issue was also discussed with the UDF leader in the council and the Standing Committee concerned. The civic body has fixed a higher rate for erecting poles than prescribed by the Kerala government. Moreover, an annual increase of 5% has been fixed on the rental, which would be beneficial to the civic body, he said.

On the number of poles, Mr. Anilkumar said clearance was issued based on the proposal submitted by the companies.

The actual number of poles erected would be known only when the project is completed. The civic body has put in place a mechanism to count the number of poles erected by the companies, he said.

The permission issued for the erection of poles has brought in a revenue of ₹15 crore for the corporation, he added.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 3:28:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/controversy-over-ofc-posts-refuses-to-die-down-in-kochi-corporation/article35597580.ece

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