THE CASH-STRAPPED Chandigarh Municipal Corporation on Tuesday approved unopposed two agenda items — either swanky cars along with drivers with 250 litre fuel every month for Deputy Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor and 100 litre fuel for every MC councillor or only 250 litre fuel for Deputy Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor, and 100 litre for every councillor every month.
The two agenda items were brought before the House without any prior intimation. This was the first MC House meeting under the chairmanship of newly elected Mayor Raj Bala Malik. If the agenda items are approved, minimum cost on the fuel around Rs 74.39 lakh will be borne by the MC as per current fuel price.
In Chandigarh, the cost of 1 litre petrol is Rs 70.85 and diesel is sold at the rate of Rs 64.98. The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has 35 councillors, including nine nominated ones. Recently, the nominated councillors were given the responsibility of villages. They are also entitled for fuel every month.
A senior MC officer said, “Both the agendas will be sent to the UT Administration for approval. If the first agenda is not approved, second will definitely be approved. In both the cases, it’s a win-win situation for deputy mayor, senior deputy mayor and councillors. At present, only mayor is entitled for government vehicle along with a driver. Though mayor is also authorised for police security guard, there is no such demand from the side of deputy mayor and senior deputy mayor. Fuel either diesel or petrol will depend on the basis of type of councillors’ vehicles.” Special Commissioner, MC, Sanjay Kumar Jha introduced both the agenda items in the House meeting.
Municipal Commissioner K K Yadav said, “If the UT Administration approves these agenda items, fuel payments will be given to the councillors, deputy mayor and senior deputy mayor as conveyance allowance.”
Mayor Malik said, “Nominated councillors were given the responsibility of villages. Their responsibilities were also increased.”
Demand for arrears rejected
The Chandigarh Administration rejected the demand for arrears for councillors on the pattern of Punjab. Municipal Commissioner K K Yadav informed the MC House during the discussion on the agendas of fuel and cars. He said, “The administration rejected the demand of arrears on the pattern of Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, which was adopted in Chandigarh, to be given them since 2015.” In July 2019, the UT Administration increased the honorarium for mayor, deputy mayor, senior deputy mayor and councillors bringing them on a par with their counterparts in Punjab.
New city BJP chief
The MC House meeting started with congratulatory messages pouring in for newly elected BJP city chief Arun Sood and Mayor Raj Bala Malik. But every councillor expressed hope that Sood will find a solution to the financial crunch in MC by taking up the matter with the Central government and leadership. Congress councillors Devinder Babla and Satish Kainth and several BJP councillors expressed similar views. Sood did not disappoint anyone. He said, “I will shortly meet Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai in Delhi. I will discuss this matter with him. I already had a word with Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur.”
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