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Corpn.’s lake cleaning expenditure questioned

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The Hindu         20.11.2017 

Corpn.’s lake cleaning expenditure questioned

Coimbatore Corporation’s expenditure to clean a few tanks in the city has caused consternation among a few activists, who have questioned its rationale.

Right to Information activist J. Daniel has unearthed through the Right to Information Act that the civic body had spent Rs. 2.30 crore between May and August 2015 to remove water hyacinth in Valangulam, Kurichi, Singanallur, Krishnampathy and Selvampathy tanks.

Why should the civic body spend such a huge amount when it could completed the very task by roping in non-government organisations and volunteers who were into lake conservation. Alternatively, the Corporation could have bought the heavy machinery, whose cost would not exceed Rs. 1 crore, and save the cost of hiring the machine.

The move to buy the heavy machinery would have been a prudent move as the civic body was the custodian of the lakes for another 90-odd years, as it had taken on lease those from the Public Works Department.

Mr. Daniel also said that the Corporation giving the tank cleaning contract to only two agencies also raised a needle of suspicion. At a time when the civic body’s finances were not healthy, it would do well to show fiscal prudence, he added.

Officials in the Corporation maintained that the move to clean the tanks was as per rules and payments were made as per procedures.

There was no irregularity in those and if at all any was pointed out, the civic body would look into those.


Public toilet turns money spinner, Corpn. comes in for criticism

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The Hindu        20.11.2017 

Public toilet turns money spinner, Corpn. comes in for criticism

Hoarding erected at the newly constructed public toilet complex in Gandhipuram.S. SIVA SARAVANANS. SIVA SARAVANAN  

Around 10 days ago, when Siddhapudur resident S. Manohara Manivannan went to use the newly constructed public convenience facility next to the Gandhipuram town bus stand on Nanjappa Road, he was asked to pay Rs. 5.

While exiting, when he questioned the person who collected the ‘fee’, he was told that it was a mistake to have collected Rs. 5 and that it was only Rs. 4. Thereafter when he demanded a receipt/token, a second person appeared and handed over a receipt.

A month or so earlier, when the family of a Coimbatore Corporation health wing employee went to the toilet, they too were asked to cough up money.

The Corporation, however, maintains that the facility is free. If complaints are brought to its notice, it will not hesitate to initiate action against the contractor.

But the story does not end there. Consumer activists say the Corporation has turned a public convenience facility into a revenue spinning machinery, for it collects money from not only public but also from contractor by way of letting out the premises for advertisement.

Coimbatore Consumer Cause’s secretary K. Kathirmathiyon wants to know if the Corporation is so poor to maintain the toilet that it wants to collect from the public by way of user charges and contractor by way of advertisement revenue.

Incidentally, the Corporation rebuilt the toilet with funds at Rs. 50 lakh that came from the Central Government under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

Corporation officials, citing the Swachh Bharat Mission guidelines, say the civic body is permitted to generate revenue by way of advertisements.

The guidelines say, “...ULBs (urban local bodies) may also identify land for public toilets and leverage this land and advertisements to encourage the private sector to construct and manage public toilets through PPP agreement.”

But with the Corporation constructing the toilet with government funds, it has no business generating revenue by way of advertisement. And even if it has to, the advertisement has to confirm to norms. In this case, it has not, Mr. Karthirmathiyon alleges.

He adds that if the Corporation is sincere about clean Coimbatore, it should have displayed Swachh Bharat message on the hoarding as its vantage location will reach more people.

However, the Corporation officials maintain that the advertisement is to generate revenue for the toilet maintenance and is in compliance to rules.


Lake loses 177 acres to encroachments

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The Hindu         20.11.2017  

Lake loses 177 acres to encroachments

From 214 acres in 1972, it is now 36 acres; Corporation plans floating gardens

The Chennai Corporation will develop floating gardens in the Villivakkam lake as part of the eco-restoration of the waterbody.

According to a study, a number of houses, commercial buildings and industries have been developed in 83% of the lake area, reducing the waterbody to 36.34 acres. In 1972, the lake had an area of 214 acres.

The existing boundaries of the lake include Jawaharlal Nehru Road and Padi Railway Station on the west, residential areas on the north, Chennai-Tiruvallur High Road on the south and SIDCO Nagar Industrial Estate on the east.

“Most of the lake has been lost. The remaining part is polluted because of letting of industrial effluents. We will develop a floating raft of phytoremediation plants in the lake. The roots will absorb pollutants from the water. The plants will release the pollutants as harmless gases in the atmosphere, cleaning the waterbody,” said an official.

The study by the Corporation has pointed to dumping of construction debris in the lake and unauthorised settlements.


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