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Corporation, Ombudsman headed for confrontation

By Our Staff Reporter

KOCHI, FEB. 11. The Kochi Corporation and the Ombudsman for Local Bodies seem to be heading for a confrontation as the deadline for evolving a project for cleaning up the city canals ended today.

In its last sitting, the Ombudsman for Local Bodies, K. P. Radhakrishna Menon, suggested the formation of a high-level committee with the Mayor and the GCDA chairman as members so that the cleaning of the major drains in the city would be completed before the forum's next sitting.

But the committee is yet to meet.

The Ombudsman is to hold the next sitting tomorrow.

With the deadline ending without any major initiative taken to address the various issues, the Corporation Secretary, who is convener of the committee, is likely to ask for more time at tomorrow's sitting. He would be appearing in person to plead for more time.

The progress report on the various activities undertaken by the Corporation presented by the Corporation Secretary at the last sitting of the forum failed to impress the Ombudsman. The civic body said that it had completed the cleaning of most of the city drains and that it was in the final stage of removing silt. It said that the repairing of roads was also in progress.

The Corporation's argument that it was coordinating the activities of various agencies in controlling mosquito menace and that it cleaned up a major portion of the Rameswaram canal failed to satisfy the Ombudsman.

Meanwhile, the civic officials have in principle decided to challenge the Ombudsman's verdict that is "stalling" the development activities in the city. The Kochi Mayor, C. M. Dinesh Mani, had criticised the Ombudsman's verdict as "anti-people" and went on to say that all the development activities were for the people.

Though some of the senior officials of the Corporation are opposed to the civic body adopting a confrontationist attitude against the forum, the general feeling among the civic authorities is that the Ombudsman's order needs to be legally challenged.

However, the Corporation is yet to initiate any action for challenging the verdict at the High Court.

It would depend on the outcome of tomorrow's sitting that the civic body would be finalising its strategies.

Meanwhile, the Aluva Paristhithi Samrakshana Samithy accused the Kochi Corporation of having failed to provide potable water and pollution-free environment to Kochiites even after spending huge amounts for various projects.

Though the Corporation had set up a Paristhithi Bhavan for environment protection activities, it had failed to address any of the issues Kochi was facing, said a joint statement issued by C. M. Joy and S. Sitaraman,office-bearers of the Samithy.

They alleged that most of the environment protection programmes of the Corporation had been put in cold storage and that the civic body had not even considered the proposals submitted for addressing some of the environment issues.

The Samithy accused the Corporation of having turning a blind eye towards encroachment and pollution in the Vembanad Lake.

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