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Heated debate over delay in civic polls

The delay over the conduct of elections to the local bodies in the state kicked up a storm in the Assembly on Tuesday, while Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani, Finance Minister D Jayakumar and the DMK working president MK Stalin exchanged heated barbs.

Heated debate over delay in civic polls
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File photo of TN Assembly

Chennai

The tempo of debate rose when DMK MLA K Pitchandi accused the ruling party of having no interest in the conduct of local body elections. Velumani indirectly blamed the Opposition for cancellation of the election notification for the local bodies, when the state was gearing up to conduct it. “The state has ensured smooth functioning of the civic administration of the local bodies with the appointment of  special officers,” Velumani said. 

Stalin, in his reply, as to why the court stayed the election process in the light of lapses in reservation and rotation of seats, went on to say that the DMK was not responsible for the delay. 

Velumani replied that the historic reservation of 50 per cent to women was accorded by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa and that the government was ready to conduct the elections, but for the litigations. Stalin in his counter-claim observed that it was the DMK regime which brought 33 per cent reservation for women in the local bodies, by way of legislation. 

Jayakumar, who intervened at that time, pointed out that the proposal to enhance reservation for women to 33 per cent in the local bodies was mooted by Jayalalithaa during her regime in 1991 – 1996. 

“The same was placed before the Cabinet. In sequel, the Assembly adopted a resolution to this effect. The resolution was sent to the Centre for nod and it was constantly followed up by the government until it became a legislation. 

As Jayalalithaa nurtured it, the DMK grabbed the low-hanging fruit to take credit for the same,” he noted. Velumani wound up the discussion by replying to the charges of discrepancy in reorganisation in electoral rolls for local bodies, by stating that they followed the protocol in this matter.

Flood mitigation project in Tambaram soon

Victims of December 2015 deluge, especially those on Adyar River bank near Tambaram, where surplus from Chembarambakkam devastated their houses, could heave a sigh of relief as state Local Administration Minister S P Velumani on Tuesday informed the Assembly that efforts were on to finalise financial resources and commence a comprehensive flood mitigation project in Tambaram. 

Intervening during the debate on demand for grants for his department, Velumani said the state public works department has prepared a detailed project report to construct surplus channels at an estimated cost of Rs 246 crore to put in place a permanent flood mitigation project there. 

The Minister also said that a drain system measuring a kilometre was being constructed close to Chennai Bypass Road there to prevent floods in future. The minister informed that 90 per cent of the works have been completed and the surplus rainwater carrier would be completed before the end of July. 

The minister also pointed out that 65,990 sanitary guards were engaged in door-to-door collection, segregation and disposal of solid waste in 12,524 panchayats under MGNREGS.

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