Kerala

Municipal chief’s resignation sought

LDF councillors stage dharna in front of Alappuzha municipal office

The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has launched a protest demanding the resignation of Alappuzha municipal chairman Illikkal Kunjumon over graft charges.

On Thursday, LDF councillors in the municipal council staged a dharna in front of the municipal office raising the demand.

Inaugurating the dharna, LDF council party leader D. Lakshmanan said the United Democratic Front (UDF) rule in the municipality was enmeshed in corruption.

Allegation

On Wednesday, a private firm owned by a young couple alleged that the municipal chairman had demanded bribe from them for granting permission for conducting an underwater tunnel expo near the Alappuzha beach. Archa Unni, managing director of Niel Entertainment, alleged that Mr. Kunjumon had demanded ₹10 lakh.

Audio clips containing the purported conversation between Mr. Kunjumon and their representatives have been released.

The firm has filed complaints with the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) and the District Police Chief. Officials of the VACB said they had not yet launched an inquiry into the complaint. “To launch a preliminary inquiry, we need to get nod from the VACB headquarters. We have already informed the top brass about the complaint and are awaiting a response,” said an official of the VACB Alappuzha unit. The owners of the firm said that they had not paid any bribe to the municipal officials. According to Niel Entertainment, it approached the municipality for permission last year. As the civic body delayed its nod, the firm moved the High Court. The court then issued an order in favour of the firm. Subsequently, both the municipality and the Ports Department granted permission to conduct the expo in November 2019. While, the Ports Department allowed them to use the land till February 23, 2020, the municipality granted permission for the firm to conduct the expo till January 23, 2020.

The municipal chairman, who is a member of the Congress, termed the corruption charges against him baseless.

Meanwhile, District Congress Committee President M. Liju said that he had sought an explanation from Mr. Kunjumon.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 3:50:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/municipal-chiefs-resignation-sought/article30636942.ece

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