KERALA

Corporations to be `explained' on terms of proposed ADB loan

T. Ramavarman

THRISSUR: The secretaries in charge of the urban and rural wings in local self-government P. Kamalkutty and S. M. Vijayanand will address the newly elected members of all the five Corporations in the State to explain to them on the terms of the proposed loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

According to official sources, the first in that series of `full council' meetings will be held in Kozhikode on December 12 and in Thrissur and Ernakulam the next day. The meetings of the Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram Corporation councils are to be held on December 16.

The sources told The Hindu here that the Corporations could still reject the loan. But they will have to take a decision in this regard before December 31. Though the Government has already signed the agreement with the ADB to avail the loan, the ADB Director Board is yet to ratify it. However, it will be difficult for the Corporations to demand a renegotiation of the loan at this stage. Many States are competing to snatch the loan from the ADB, and they will definitely hijack it during the renegotiation process which is bound to take a long time, the sources said.

The loan amounting to about Rs.1,050 crores is to be used for the development of infrastructure in the five Corporations in areas such as water supply, waste management, roads and poverty eradication programmes. The Government has agreed to repay the loans with interest. In case the Corporations reject the loans, the Government will have to implement these programmes directly, provided the ADB agrees to such a proposal.

CPI to oppose

When contacted, Communist Party of India (CPI) Legislature Party leader K. P. Rajendran said his party would continue to oppose the Corporations availing the ADB loan. It would eventually lead to deprivation of free water supply, waste management and other facilities which the poor people were enjoying.

He said his party wanted the Government to publish the agreement terms completely. When it was pointed out to him that it was the LDF which was ruling all the five Corporations in the State, Mr. Rajendran said: "We will demand a discussion on the issue in the LDF. We have been issuing numerous statements and holding protests against the ADB loan, and there is no ground now to change those views.''

Divergent opinions

According to CPI(M) sources, some sections in the party are of the view that the agreement which has been signed with the ADB by the State Government `has accommodated many of our concerns.' However, some other sections may demand a thorough debate within the party on the issue. "Anyway, the CPI(M) leadership will not force the Corporations to avail the ADB loan or reject it. The Councillors in the Corporations will have the freedom to decide on the issue," the sources said.