VIJAYAWADA: Pandemonium prevailed at the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation 2015-16 budget meet on Monday, with the ruling and opposition party corporators engaging in a verbal duel over the alleged insult to Vijayawada West Assembly Constituency MLA Jaleel Khan.
It all started when YSRC floor leader BN Punyasheela sought to know why there were no allocations for the Vijayawada West Assembly Constituency area, while Rs 60 cr were allocated for Vijayawada Central Constituency area and Rs 55 cr for Vijayawada East Constituency area for improvement of water facilities in the two areas.
“Has the West Constituency got washed away in the floods?” she questioned and sought to know if mayor K Sridhar had limited himself to taking care of the interests of only the two constituencies. The mayor said he was the mayor of entire city and there was no bias shown in any manner.
“The MLAs of those two constituencies had represented to chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu about the water problems in their respective constituencies. As the CM had assured funds, we have incorporated the same in the budget. Everyone is aware that while West Constituency area gets water from the Krishna river, areas of other two constituencies are not that fortune. We are trying to take raw water there and have it treated before supplying,” he said.
Punyaseela then pointed out that there were several hills dotted with habitations, which lacked proper supply of drinking water and added that some allocations to the constituency area was warranted. TDP floor leader G Hari Babu intervened and said the two MLAs representing the Central and East Constituencies were efficient and could get funds sanctioned by CM whereas an ‘inefficient’ West Constituency MLA could not do so.
Punyaseela and other corporators from the main Opposition party took offence to this and got into a heated argument with Hari Babu and the mayor. Noise levels were such that no one could understand what others were saying. YSRC corporators demanded an unconditional apology from the TDP floor leader, but instead he charged Punyaseela and others with disrupting the proceedings. At that point, the mayor adjourned the House for five minutes to let tempers cool.
When the meeting was resumed after some 30 minutes, Vijayawada West Constituency MLA Jaleel Khan came to the meeting. He said he had not failed in his duty as an MLA and had represented to the CM for funds for various developmental works not only in his own constituency but also the other two constituencies. “I am not playing politics here. All I want is development of Vijayawada, which is now part of the new capital region of the state. I am happy that the other two constituencies got funds for better drinking water supply. It should not be forgotten that the West Constituency represents the poor and middle classes in the city. Slum areas are more there and at same time revenue from taxes there is also more than that from the other two constituencies,” he said.
Flaunting copies of the 47 representations that he had given to the CM, he rued that the latter not responded even to one of them. This showed the failure of the government. “I don’t want to say that the government is inefficient, as I have been assured of funds and expect development to happen. The TDP floor leader should know that his party represents 13 divisions in West Constituency and lack of funding will affect them too,” he said and urged Hari Babu to withdraw his comment.
Intervening, the mayor said that it was Punyaseela who had slighted him by alleging that he was acting like a mayor of only two constituencies and not the entire city. This charge led to a fresh bout of heated arguments. Refuting the mayor’s charge, she led her party corporators in a walk out from the meeting. At that time mayor gestured with his left hand as if urging them to go, to which Jaleel Khan objected before leaving the council hall.
The meeting concluded with the House approving of the annual budget. TDP Corporator J Sambasiva Rao hailed the mayor and his administration for improving the financial position of the VMC and trying to put the city on the path of development.
Earlier, mayor Sridhar said that the Central government had sanctioned Rs 460 cr for storm water drainage, while the state government had provided Rs 47.52 cr for construction of drains to control the floods in Budameru canal. He explained that in the budget, sizable allocations were made for improvement of street lights with LED bulbs and use solar panels to power them. Funds were also allocated for development of burial grounds, dumping yard, improvement of roads, bridges and construction of subways, community halls, markets and reading rooms, he explained.