ANDHRA PRADESH

Focus on water problem at civic body meet

TIRUPATI June 26. Problems faced in supply of water to various wards took centre stage at the emergency meeting of the Tirupati Municipal Council held here on Thursday.

The clamour generated by the heated exchanges among councillors on each and every trivial issue drowned even the justifiable objections raised at the meet, which the chairperson, K. Sankar Reddy, announced were `deemed' to have been accepted even without a proper discussion.

As soon as the meeting started, the Congress councillors resorted to a sit-in in the well of the House, demanding regular supply of water and sinking of additional borewells in their areas to escape the public wrath. They were also angry at the `step-motherly' treatment being meted out to the non-TDP wards.

Objections were raised on the allocation of `abnormally huge' amounts for trivial heads like maintenance of greenery on the office premises and flowerpots in front of the chambers of officials. Also, the additional deployment of 35 contract workers to guard the Telugu Ganga pipeline from the Kailasagiri summer storage tank to the town, which burdens the exchequer to the tune of Rs.1.6 lakhs for just two months, also came under fire by none other than the vice-chairman, B. Karunakar (TDP), who suggested that the existing workforce be re-deployed.

The commissioner, T. Venkateswarlu, explained that it needed skilled labour to guard and maintain the 42 km pipeline from Kailasagiri to the town and the waterlines criss-crossing the town and hence the need to deploy trained hands, which, however, could not convince the members.

Pacifying the councillors, Mr. Sankar Reddy said that water was being supplied on every alternate day in sharp contrast to the Chittoor, Madanapalle and Srikalahasti municipalities in the district, which were facing tremendous pressure from the public. At the same time, salaries were also being paid regularly to the staff by generating own funds, while the same had been pending for four months in case of the neighbours. Toeing the Government's line on privatisation, Mr. Reddy hinted at privatising the maintenance and collection part to let the body focus on development.

The lone BJP member, G. Bhanuprakash Reddy, took serious exception to the intrusion by `outsiders' into the office affairs and warned of an agitation. He was recalling the recent incident when the local MLA, Ch. Krishnamurthy, barged into the municipal office late one evening and assailed officials, who he suspected to be owing allegiance to the chairperson.

The Congress members resented the conduct of Janmabhoomi by the municipality with its own funds.

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