Thiruvananthapuram Corpn. council rejects demand for Vigilance probe

After a couple of hours of stormy debates, the city Corporation council on Thursday rejected a demand for a Vigilance inquiry into the expenditure for the civic body’s cleaning activities as part of Attukal Pongala.

The demand was rejected by 54 votes to 33, with the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) getting the support of three Independent councillors. With the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) councillors trooping into the well with placards during voting, only the 33 councillors of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) voted for the demand.

The special council meeting was held following the BJP’s demand for a discussion on its allegations of corruption in sanitation activities held as part of Attukal Pongala this year. BJP councillor M.R. Gopan, who opened the debate, said that this was the first time that the expenses for Pongala cleaning, which did not take place, was being brought to the council.

Not on roads

He said that the decision to not allow Pongala offerings on public roads was taken at a meeting on January 27 chaired by the then Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran, in which Mayor Arya Rajendran was present. He questioned the Mayor why prior sanction for hiring trucks to remove waste generated during Pongala was given after such a decision.

The Mayor countered the claim saying that the said meeting had decided to limit the number of participants in Pongala to 5,000 using an online booking system. The precautionary arrangements were made for waste removal based on this. It was only in a meeting of the 41-member COVID-19 core committee headed by the Chief Minister on February 19 that the decision to limit the Pongala offering to the temple surroundings was taken.

Prior sanction

UDF parliamentary party leader Padmakumar questioned the need for anticipatory sanction of expenses. When he and the other Opposition councillors claimed that Pongala was not offered anywhere on public roads this year, the ruling councillors said that there were many locations, including Palkulangara, Chala and Fort, where Pongala was offered on the road, and from where waste was removed. They said that 28 loads of waste were removed from various health circles after Pongala.

Myth of Kannaki

BJP councillor P. Ashokkumar used the myth of Kannaki linked to the Attukal temple to say that truth was of paramount importance in her tale, while LDF councillor Amshu Vamadevan used the same myth to say that it was also about the fake stories used by a section to demean a woman. Mr. Ashokkumar said that no tender was called for any of the Pongala-related expenses. The Mayor said the tender for hiring the trucks to remove waste was issued on February 15 in newspapers and on the Corporation website. Three bidders responded to it and the contract was awarded to the one who made the lowest quote.

LDF councillor Palayam Rajan said that the same people would have blamed the Corporation if it had not taken steps to remove the waste. He said that the BJP’s own mouthpiece had reported that a group of people had stopped the Corporation’s vehicle from dumping Pongala waste near the Anayara World Market, proving that waste was indeed removed that day.

Food bills

On the controversy regarding food bills for sanitation workers, the Mayor said that 355 workers were deployed on Pongala day, out of which food was provided to 250 people. She said unnecessary controversies should not be created to demean the efforts of the workers. The health officials had duly submitted the bills for the expenses incurred, she said.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 2:24:15 PM |

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