Chandigarh: Municipal Commissioner, executive officer boycott MC meeting, stage walkout

The meeting which was being held after five months began on a stormy note with the councillors raking up issues from the previous House meetings.

By: Express News Service | Panchkula | Published:October 26, 2016 4:45 am
Chandigarh: Municipal Commissioner, executive officer boycott MC meeting, stage walkout Empty chairs and nameplates of Commissioner Lalit Siwach, Joint Commissioner Ashutosh Rajan and Executive Officer O P Sihag at the MC meeting in Panchkula on Tuesday. (Express Photo by Jaipal Singh)

DRAMATIC scenes were witnessed in the House meeting of the civic body on Tuesday after the Municipal Commissioner and executive officer staged a walkout and boycotted the meeting infuriated over the councillors passing a resolution to condemn Commissioner Lalit Siwach.

The meeting which was being held after five months began on a stormy note with the councillors raking up issues from the previous House meetings. Asserting that they were not being included in the decision-making process pertaining to their wards, the councillors alleged that they were being sidelined by the MC officials.

“First, the officials formed a new committee comprising private persons to monitor dog sterilisation programme, though a committee was already constituted in the first House meeting. Secondly, the commissioner gave permission for installation of mobile towers in different wards, without even informing the ward councillors,” said councillor Ravikant Swami.

The councillors also expressed resentment over the inauguration of developmental projects by political leaders, including MLA Latika Sharma, in the absence of ward councillors and demanded that a resolution to condemn be passed against Siwach.

“We had approached the mayor about how we are being sidelined by MC officials. When the mayor wrote letters to Commissioner, he complained to DC and got suspension notice issued to her. We demand disciplinary action against him (Siwach),” said Bhawna Gupta, whose demand was supported by nine other councillors, most of them were Congress-backed, and Mayor Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia.

However, the demand for a resolution to condemn against Siwach infuriated him and he walked out of the House along with EO O P Sihag and other MC officials amidst heated exchanges. Five councillors — C B Goel, Salim, Satinder Singh Tony, Deputy Mayor Sunil Talwar and Vinod Kumar — also walked out, but returned to attend the meeting. The MC officials boycotted the meeting.

At a press conference organised soon after the meeting, Commissioner Siwach said that it was a pre-planned move by the councillors. “The meeting was started by the councillors and mayor with planned motives to settle their political issues. They started targeting MC officials without any plausible justification. HUDA had granted permission for 32 permanent towers, we had only allowed nine towers and the committee was formed as per provisions of the Act,” said Siwach.

Responding to the councilors’ allegations that officers cannot boycott the House meeting, Siwach said that it was a symbolic walkout. “It was symbolic, because we wanted to tell them that MC officials should not be dragged into the clash of their political interests. We were on the premises for three hours after the meeting, but were not called,” he said.

As many as 11 out of a total of 16 councillors, including the mayor, signed the resolution to condemn against Siwach which would be sent to the Urban Local Bodies Department to recommend disciplinary action against him. On the other hand, Siwach argued that the proposal is not valid, as the quorum of the House was incomplete and any decision taken in the House was not maintainable.

“Only five out of a total of 16 councillors signed the attendance register. The quorum was not complete. They cannot take any decision. The officials feel suffocated in such an atmosphere and we will take up the matter with Urban Local Bodies Department,” said Siwach.

Proposal to rename roundabouts deferred

WHILE discussing the proposal for renaming of two roundabouts in Panchkula after Shaheed Udham Singh and Maharana Pratap, the councillors objected saying they were not aware of any such announcement by the CM.