Opposition boycotts council meeting

COIMBATORE, NOV. 29. As a prelude to their December 10 demonstration to demand amenities in unapproved layouts, the Opposition parties in the Coimbatore Corporation boycotted the council meeting today.

Led by the Deputy Mayor, K. Raghupathy, they staged a brief demonstration outside the council and condemned the Corporation and the Government for ignoring the plight of the residents in these layouts.

The Opposition's presence was, however, not missed in council what with some members of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam also conveying their strong resentment over the conditions in these layouts.

At one stage, the Mayor, T. Malaravan, asked the AIADMK member, Singai S. Balan, whether he belonged to the ruling party or the Opposition front.

Mr. Balan, who was listing out the woes of the residents in the unapproved layout retorted saying that it was not a question of party affiliation but of the plight of the people. "It is a matter of concern to all parties."

Lack of hygiene

The other AIADMK member who did not hide his feelings was Abdul Kareem Sait, who accused the civic officials of ignoring the demand for a garbage container in his ward. This had resulted in lack of hygiene, he said.

When the Mayor asked him to wait for some more time so that the civic body could arrange for a container, Mr. Sait said: "By that time the tenure of this council will have been completed."

Mr. Balan sought to remind the Mayor that the Government wanted to implement people-friendly schemes but if these were not reached to the public "we will not be able to face the public in the next elections".

People suffer

No sooner the council meeting began, than the Opposition comprising the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Congress and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) insisted that the Mayor first explain what measures had been taken to remove the plight of the residents and also ensure that streetlights were maintained properly.

Stating that basic amenities were lacking in unapproved layouts, R. Devaraj of the CPI pointed out that at the council meeting last month it was promised that special permission would be sought from the Government for laying at least gravel-topped roads in these layouts. But, there was no solution in sight.

The leader of the MDMK in the council, M. Krishnaswamy, said the layouts were a mess and without discussing ways to find a solution there was no point in discussing other subjects listed on the agenda for the day.

Threatens sit-in

The Congress Councillor, "Colony" R. Venkatachalam, walked up to the Mayor and declared that he would stage a sit-in if the demands were not met.

When the Mayor pointed out that the Government rules forbade the Corporation from providing amenities to unapproved layouts, the CPI (M) member, R. Chandrashekaran, demanded that a resolution be moved in the Council to condemn the stand of the Government. The Mayor turned it down.

Opposition "pretending"

After the Opposition parties walked out and raised slogans outside the Council, the Mayor criticised them for "pretending" not to know that the ban on use of MP and MLA constituency development funds in unapproved layouts was imposed by the DMK regime.

As for streetlight operation and maintenance, he accused the Opposition of stonewalling efforts by the Corporation to invite bids from private operators.

"They have been objecting to all suggestions that were made to break the deadlock over the issue of continuing with totally privatised operation and maintenance."

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