Mysuru: The issue of non-payment for the food contractor of Indira Canteens in city reverberated at the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) Council meeting held at Nalwadi Krishnaraja Auditorium yesterday. The proposal of some Corporators to divert funds from infrastructure-related works and give it to run Indira Canteens led to chaotic scenes.
It may be recalled here that Star of Mysore had published a report on June 27 under the title ‘6 months gone, government yet to pay city Indira Canteen contractor’. The report had highlighted how the food contractor is paying from his own pockets to run the 11 Indira Canteens as the government has failed to pay him even after six months.
The issue was raised at the meeting that was chaired by Mayor B. Bhagyavathi where it was proposed to utilise Rs. 187 crore sanctioned in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 for the purpose of running the Indira Canteens. BJP Corporators objected to this and created a ruckus over the issue pointing out that funds meant for drinking water works and other infrastructure development projects could not be diverted to run a canteen.
Corporator M.V. Ramprasad of the BJP said they were not against the canteen providing subsidised food for the poor but did not want diversion of money allocated for city infrastructure works. He was supported by other Corporators who alleged irregularities in the functioning of the canteens.
Corporator B.V. Manjunath argued that if development funds were diverted for canteens it would affect infrastructure works. He demanded that the State government should release special funds if it wants to run Indira Canteens smoothly. Corporator Shivakumar too questioned how the MCC could utilise money that was granted to develop various wards to manage a canteen.
Countering the BJP attack, former Mayor H.N. Srikantaiah said that there was an undertaking by the State government that the Corporation should subsidise the functioning of Indira Canteens and the amount can be adjusted through a matching grant by the State government. He argued that this arrangement has to be followed by all City Corporations including Mysuru.
Former Mayor Ayub Khan opined that since Indira Canteen is a government initiative, it was not wrong to utilise government money to run the canteens. Even Corporator K.V. Mallesh said that the Deputy Commissioner has asked the MCC to utilise funds to run the canteens.
After discussing the issue with MCC Commissioner K.H. Jagadeesha, Mayor Bhagyavathi said that releasing funds to run the canteen was only a temporary arrangement and would not affect infrastructure works. She said that the grants received from the State Finance Commission (SFC) would be released for running Indira Canteens.
New tender to appoint security agency
MCC Commissioner Jagadeesha told the Council that new security agencies will be appointed to provide security to the properties owned by the MCC including buildings, parks and Vani Vilas Water Works.
Soon after the Commissioner’s announcement, former Mayor Purushotham alleged that a few security agencies were exploiting the guards by not giving them salaries on time.
As it is, guards are paid less and some agencies are cutting their salaries for silly reasons, he alleged. He urged the MCC to discontinue the present security agency and hand over to a professional agency.