Chairman inactive, Villupuram municipality moribund: CM

CHENNAI NOV. 6. The Villupuram municipality is in a moribund state due to inaction on the part of its chairman (S.S. Pannerselvam of the DMK), the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, told the Assembly today.

Participating in a discussion on a special calling attention notice moved by the DMK's K. Ponmudi on non-functioning of the local body, she said a Madras High Court stay, which pertained only to the agenda of the municipality's November 15, 2002 meeting, did not stop the conduct of subsequent meetings. Still, the municipality chief did not take action to convene council meetings. "It is because of his adamant attitude that no welfare activity is taking place in the area".

In September last, the municipal commissioner sought a remedy, citing the non-working of the local body. The Commissioner of the Municipal Administration sent a proposal on September 9 to the State Government for dissolving the council.

Tracing the sequence of events, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the local body held its council meeting in April 2002 but no business was transacted, as 18 out of 38 members expressed their opposition to its convening. A month later, a meeting was convened but it was also opposed by 20 members. No decision was again taken at the meeting. In June last year, another meeting was called to discuss 89 items. As chaos prevailed, the Chairman recorded that all items had been passed. But the Vice-Chairman and 21 members submitted the same day a petition to him, opposing his decision.

In view of the non-functioning of the local body, the Commissioner of the municipal administration wrote to the Government, recommending the appointment of an officer. But this was not accepted, as there was no letter from the Chairman.

On November 15, 2002, two meetings of the council took place in violation of rules. Also, the District Collector, citing law and order, advised that the meetings be not held. Still, about 140 items were taken up at the meetings though there was no urgency.

So, the Government sought an explanation from the municipal body through a communication dated November 29, 2002. It also issued a show-cause notice, asking why the resolutions passed on November 15, 2002, should not be cancelled. The Chairman moved the High Court, which in December last restrained the Government from taking any decision, pending disposal of the case.