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Special council meet to discuss graft allegations

Issue of hiring of 20 trucks for waste removal for Pongala festival

A special meeting of the city Corporation council is expected to be held this week, after the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded that a discussion be held on its allegations of corruption in sanitation activities held as part of the Attukal Pongala this year.

Though Mayor Arya Rajendran had earlier issued a detailed explanation on the allegations, BJP councillors had last week raised the demand for a special council meet to discuss the issue.

As per the Municipal Act, if one-third of the members demand the convening of a special council meeting over some specific issue, it has to be held within 10 days. The Corporation authorities now plan to hold the meeting on Thursday, expecting the lockdown curbs to be lifted on Wednesday. The meeting will be held as per COVID-19 protocols, with all of the councillors being present in person.

A council meeting held in the last week of May, which was proposed to be organised to be organised partially online, was disrupted with all of the BJP councillors arriving for the meeting, instead of the limited numbers agreed in an all party meeting. In that meeting too, the BJP councillors had displayed placards against the Mayor and the ruling Left Democratic Front over the Pongala sanitation issue.

In a statement posted in her Facebook page after the allegations were raised late last month, the Mayor had said that the garage supervisor had submitted a report before Pongala, saying that 53 tipper trucks should be taken on rent to remove the waste, in case the festival is held as in previous years. However, considering the COVID-19 restrictions in place, permission was accorded to rent 20 trucks as the Pongala was limited to the Attukal temple surroundings and households.

These trucks were deployed in the various health circles a day before Pongala. Ms.Rajendran said that 28 loads of waste was removed from the various health circles after Pongala, with the largest quantities of waste being from Manacaud, Fort, Sreekandeswaram, Chala, Chenthitta and Karamana circles.

She maintained that there was no change in the amount of waste generated from the areas near the temple as the rituals had happened as usual, although majority of the devotees offered Pongala from their homes.

But, the opposition has continued to raise corruption allegations in the hiring of trucks for waste removal with a flurry of social media posts from opposition councillors.

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