‘729 illegal drinking water connections given in ward 37 of Tirunelveli Corporation; bribe exceeds ₹2 crore’

The Corporation is all set to seek the Tamil Nadu Government’s nod for probing 729 illegal drinking water connections given to houses in ward 37 as the beneficiaries have allegedly given over ₹2 crore as bribe for getting the drinking water connection in an unlawful manner.

 After being ward 17 from 1996 to 2021, this ward near KTC Nagar became ward 37 following delimitation in 2022. As it houses more than 2,000 middle and upper middle class families, the Corporation, in a bid to ensure drinking water supply to this area, was supplying water from its drinking water pumping stations at Manappadaiveedu and Thirumalaikozhunthupuram. While the Manappadaiveedu pumping station was an old project, the Thirumalaikozhunthupuram pumping station was just 15 years old.

 Since population of ward 37 was quite high, demand for drinking water connections was also high and it would not be met by these two pumping stations. Naturally, the waitlisted applicants were given the drinking water connections in phased manner, which irked the impatient residents, who bribed the Corporation officials for getting the drinking water connections illegally.

 “When around 500 illegal drinking water connections were detected 10 years ago, the erring residents were fined while five Corporation officials were suspended. However, the government, in a bid to help the violators, regularised the connections after collecting the mandatory non-returnable deposit and the fine by issuing an order,” recalled a senior Corporation official.

 Again, illegal drinking water connection issue has rocked the Corporation as the officials have detected 729 illegal drinking water connections given in this ward.

 Since the Keezhanaththam village panchayat boundary starts at the point where the boundary of ward 37 ends, drinking water connections from the Corporation’s drinking water pipes have been given to good number of houses in Keezhanaththam village panchayat also, the residents allege.

 “After taking huge sum of money ranging from ₹30,000 to ₹40,000 per connection, illegal drinking water connections have been given to good number of houses in Keezhanaththam village panchayat, which is a gross violation of norms. When we raised the issue in the past, we were forcibly silenced by a few politicians enjoying caste, money and muscle power. Hence, we could not pursue this issue. Since the issue has surfaced again, it is good for the Corporation,” said a bank employee from ward 37.

 However, councilor of ward 37 and chairman of Palayamkottai Zone of Tirunelveli Corporation M. Francis, who is representing this ward since 2001, denied that no illegal drinking water connection had been given in his ward.

 “My ward, having around 2,000 houses, houses mostly middle and upper middle class families who have built their houses by spending more than half a crore rupee. Why should they refuse to pay just ₹6,000 for getting drinking water connection legally?. This is nothing but mud-slinging and only a rumour, which is being spread systematically by a few people to malign me,” said Mr. Francis.

 However, the Corporation administration has collected details about the 729 drinking water connections to be submitted to the government for seeking probe by the anti-corruption wing.

 “Yes… The complete list of illegal drinking water connections with the addresses is ready now. It is about to be submitted to the government for a formal probe by vigilance and anti-corruption wing,” said a senior Corporation official.

 A former councilor said similar offence had happened in Thimmarajapuram and Kakkan Nagar in ward 5 and Manakaavalanpillai Nagar Kulam in ward 7, wherein the officials and the public representatives had taken huge sum of money for giving illegal drinking water connections. “It should also be probed,” the former councilor said.

 Asserting that illegal drinking water connections had been given to 729 houses of ward 37 and adjoining areas, Corporation Commissioner V. Sivakrishnamurthy said a comprehensive probe would be conducted as decided by the government to unearth the truth and take the culprits to books.

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Printable version | Aug 19, 2022 7:21:13 pm |