Kerala

Heated debate in council over CMDRF contribution

The city Corporation’s contribution to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) as part of COVID-19 vaccine challenge became a matter of heated debate at a council meeting on Monday, with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanding that the council should raise a request for the money to be returned to the civic body as vaccines are now free for everyone.

The demand was rejected with the Deputy Mayor saying that the Chief Minister has made it clear that the money collected as part of the challenge will be used for COVID-related activities.

The debate was around an agenda item for ratifying an anticipatory sanction accorded by the Mayor on April 27 for the Corporation's contribution of ₹2 crore to the CMDRF. BJP councillor Karamana Ajith said that the opposition parties were not made aware of the anticipatory sanction in the all-party meeting or in previous council meetings. He said that since the Union government has now changed its vaccine policy, to provide vaccines free of cost, the Corporation should request for this amount to be credited back.

BJP councillor Anilkumar said that the government is taking away funds from the cash-strapped local bodies in times of distress. He accused the Mayor of misusing her powers to accord anticipatory sanction.

United Democratic Front councillor Padmakumar said that the government or the civic body has not taken any steps to address vaccine scarcity.

Left Democratic Front (LDF) councillor Medayil Vikraman hit back at the BJP saying that the Prime Minister had earlier announced that the vaccines cannot be provided free, following which the Chief Minister had said that Kerala would provide vaccines free of cost to everyone. It was following this that the public themselves had initiated the vaccine challenge.

LDF councillor Amshu Vamadevan said that the Union government was forced to change its vaccine policy after the Supreme Court had raised questions on the funds being spent for vaccination. This led to an uproar with the BJP councillors claiming that the SC never ordered the government to provide free vaccination. The agenda was later passed with the Deputy Mayor's explanation.

With the council getting extended beyond the usual cut-off time, the issue of clearing an additional amount of ₹1.27 crore for the multi-level parking lot in the Corporation office premises was discussed only for five minutes. The civic body is being forced to spend an additional amount due to errors in the estimates prepared by the consultant KITCO. The opposition councillors questioned the delay in opening the parking lot, even after it was ‘inaugurated’ a few months back. The Works Standing Committee Chairperson said that the parking lot is expected to be opened after completion of the remaining works within a month.

The council also decided to make special arrangements in its control room to monitor the functioning of the approved agencies which collect slaughter waste from chicken shops in the city.

Checks will be carried out to ensure that all the chicken waste from shops is handed over to the approved agencies and not to illegal operators. A special health squad will be formed for this purpose.


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Printable version | Aug 6, 2021 2:10:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/heated-debate-in-council-over-cmdrf-contribution/article34891160.ece

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