Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 21
Even though the Municipal Corporation (MC) is facing a fund crunch, the MC House today approved official vehicles along with driver and 250 litres of fuel per month for the Senior Deputy Mayor and the Deputy Mayor, besides 100 litres of petrol/diesel per month for all councillors. The move will burden the civic body with a whopping about Rs 31 lakh per annum. However, residents and a few councillors have criticised the move saying that it was not required. The item was not there in the scheduled main and supplementary agenda. The corporation brought it as table agenda apparently to avoid public criticism before the House meeting.
“There is no facility of an official vehicle and driver for us. We have to walk to attend various
programmes and meetings in the city. We use our own vehicles for the purpose,” Senior Deputy Mayor Ravi Kant Sharma and Deputy Mayor Jagtar Singh said in a letter to the Mayor.
Similarly, a letter signed by both ruling BJP and opposition Congress councillors said, “We visit the MC office every day for addressing the grievances of the public and also meet officers for readying the development agenda of our wards. We use our own vehicles to attend officials programmes.”
Based on these two letters, table agenda was brought to the House and subsequently cleared. However, the final nod for this decision, like in the case of other agenda, will come from the Secretary, Local Government, ie the Home Secretary. At present, the Mayor is the only one entitled to an official vehicle among them.
The move has come in for criticism. “It is only for appeasement and there was no need for it. Chandigarh is very small and the quantity of fuel being
provided is too much. Moreover, the Senior Deputy Mayor and the Deputy Mayor have no additional powers like the Mayor which require vehicles and drivers. Most people come to meet the Mayor only,” said Vinod Vashisht, convener, City Forum of Residents' Welfare Organisation.
RK Garg, president of the Second Innings Association, said, “The MC is in a financial crunch and they are spendthrift. The MC is already suffering due to such illogical decisions. The situation is moving from bad to worse. Such facilities have no meaning in this city, which has a small area.”
After the House meeting, a few councillors were seen expressing disapproval. “What is the need for it. It will make us a laughing stock,” said a BJP councillor. “I will not avail of the facility even if is approved by the Administration,” added a Congress councillor.
The Administration had last year approved an increase in their monthly honorarium. The Mayor gets Rs 30,000, the Senior Deputy Mayor receives Rs 24,000, while the Deputy Mayor gets Rs 18,750 per month. Besides, each month they get Rs 15,000 as constituency allowance, which is also given to every councillor.
They also receive Rs 2,000 as telephone allowance per month. They are paid a fixed amount for meetings of the House and for Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) meetings. They have also demanded arrears, which were declined by the Administration, but the MC has again sent a request.
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