`No irregularities in purchase of lorries'

Special Correspondent

`Audit officials convinced that everything is according to procedure' `Audit officials briefed, convinced that everything is according to procedure'

`Audit officials briefed, convinced that everything is according to procedure'

COIMBATORE: In a little more than 24-hours since the furore in the Coimbatore Corporation Council over the purchase of garbage lorries, the civic body categorically stated on Friday that there were no irregularities in the contract.

Councillors of the Coimbatore Corporation alleged at the Council meeting on Thursday that there was a scam in the purchase of 33 lorries at Rs.2.54 crores to transport garbage (in containers) from the city to the compost yard in the outskirts.

Councillors of various parties raised an objection to the civic body bringing in three resolutions relating to the purchase for the Council's approval at the meeting. With the debate over these threatening to take away the time for other resolutions, approval for these was deferred and an all-party meeting was held on Friday to explain the issue to the councillors.

The leader of the Communist Party of India in the Council, R. Devaraj, said in the Council there was audit objection to the purchase of the lorries.

He said the objections were over the Corporation directly going in for the purchase instead of the Government, payment of Rs.2 crore by cheque even before the vehicles reached Coimbatore, transportation cost of Rs.9,800 a vehicle (from Salem to Coimbatore) and 12 per cent Sales Tax. Exemption from the tax could have been got if the purchase had been done as per procedure.

As these questions had been raised during audit, there was enough reason to suspect irregularities in the purchase of the lorries, he said.

Even as officials denied the charges of irregularities, the Leader of the Opposition and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member, K.P. Jagannathan, demanded an inquiry into the purchase, asking why the payment was made even before the vehicles reached the Corporation. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam councillor Singai S. Balan said the probe should be conducted by the Commissioner of Municipal Administration and not by the Corporation officials.

The Corporation Commissioner, P. Muthuveeran, said an inquiry would be held with the officials in the Accounts Department. Action would be taken if there were any irregularities.

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