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Council set for stormy meet

By Karthik Subramanian

CHENNAI, APRIL 12. The Chennai Corporation council will hold its regular meeting on Wednesday at Ripon Buildings, close on the heels of the introduction of a Bill in the Legislature to amend the Madras City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919 to allow it to meet once in three months.

Opposition councillors yesterday criticised the move and the issue is set to dominate proceedings tomorrow.

At Ripon Buildings, the feeling is that the administration will face flak tomorrow, as it is believed that the Bill was tabled at the suggestion of the Chennai Corporation Commissioner. Some ruling party councillors are also not in favour of the decision, but are not willing to say so openly.

The Commissioner, M.P. Vijayakumar, refused comment on the issue.

Debates and attacks

While most councillors feel that the conduct of the council once in three months would limit their chances of representing public grievances, many of the meetings in the last two and half years have been marred by political debates and personal remarks.

The Deputy Mayor, R. Thiagarajan, who has been conducting the council, and the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam councillor, P. Vetrivel, have been accused of making personal attacks on Opposition party leaders.

On one occasion, Mr. Thiagarajan criticiced former Russian leader Josef Stalin, much to the chagrin of the Communist Party councillors. Mr. Vetrivel has made personal remarks against the Congress floor leader, R. Mano.

On several occasions, the Opposition and ruling party councillors have almost come to blows over personal remarks that are not recorded in the proceedings.

The AIADMK councillors have maintained that they were forced to make attacks only in retaliation. They say the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Congress attend the council meetings only with the aim of disrupting them.

Since Mr. Thiagarajan began conducting the meetings in 2002, the Opposition councillors have been evicted en masse on 20 occasions. More than 500 resolutions, including important policy decisions, have been passed without any discussion. Important public issues including the drinking water problems in some areas have not been discussed at length.

CPI(M) protest

On Tuesday, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) protested in front of the Memorial Hall in Esplanade criticising the highly politicised conduct of the Corporation Council meetings.

The party volunteers distributed pamphlets criticising the Government for assigning just eight per cent of the tax revenues to local bodies. The West Bengal Government had allotted 50 per cent of its tax revenues and the Karnataka Government had allotted 40 per cent, the pamphlets said.

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