July 1, 2009 5:41:21 am
In a first in the 12-year history of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation,the powers of the mayor came under discussion at a House meet on Tuesday. The dispute was over a letter written by the municipal commissioner,stating that the mayor has no power to call meetings of officers to discuss review of ongoing development works or for any other purpose.
Mayor Kamlesh had called a meeting on June 19 to discuss the status of community centres,to which Commissioner Dr Roshan Sunkaria said in a letter that the commissioner was the head of all MC departments and that only he could call meetings of officers to discuss their functions,citing provisions of the Municipal Act. A similar reply was received by the mayor when she called a meeting to review progress of the ongoing development work.
This is the first time a mayor is confronted with such a situation. All previous mayors have reviewed projects.
As Kamlesh highlighted the matter in the House ,the councillors supported her and protested against the functioning of officials. They demanded that the letter be withdrawn.
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The commissioner said a legal opinion could be sought in case the councillors felt the letter was illegal. Reviewing of development work is an executive function and the mayor cannot do it. The letter is not illegal, he said.
The tussle started after there was a controversy over holding the House meet along with a special meeting to discuss the report on the solid waste management plant. The mayor said she had asked for the two meetings to be held on two days. But the officials scheduled the meetings on a single day,claiming that the papers have been misplaced, she added.
The mayor said officials did not come to her office for discussion on the agendas. The officers do not discuss the agenda. As a result,councillors are complaining that their agendas are not included. The agenda items that neither I nor the chairpersons of committees have approved are part of the House meeting, said Kamlesh.
Councillor Chander Mukhi Sharma said the officials were trying to create a rift between the councillors to make them fight. He added: The officials behave rudely when we ask them about development work. They tell us that we are wasting our time.
Councillor Dr A P Sanwaria,on the other hand,said the mayor should resign if the officers dont listen to her. A discussion was also held on the dignity of the office of the mayor.
Councillor Harjinder Kaur questioned why the mayor had not spoken up in the last six months and called a meeting of all councillors so that they could come out in support.
The House was adjourned and discussion on the solid waste management plant postponed. The councillors will meet the UT Home Secretary on Thursday to discuss the issue.
Councillors meet Bansal
Congress councillors held a meeting with local MP and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal to discuss the issue. In the meeting that went on till late night,they said the House should be dissolved that if powers could not be given to the mayor. It was felt that without adequate powers the House did not have much relevance. Bansal has earlier voiced his opinion in favour of increasing powers of the civic body.
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