A few days ago, Coimbatore Corporation received the award for the Best Corporation in the state from the chief minister. As the city mayor and corporation officials beam before lensmen with the award and mention it in every possible occasion, even the ordinary Coimbatorean, who is otherwise mute to the farcical practice of high and mighty in the city awarding and rewarding each other for no apparent reason, remains shocked.
For the past 20 months since this newspaper launched in Coimbatore, reporters here never had any dearth for news, thanks to the city corporation. Pits dug in the middle thoroughfare roads for the Under Ground Drainage (UGD) work that were built a long time ago still remained open. Public protests demanding regular drinking water supply have been occurring every other week with alarming regularity. Road expansion workin arterial roads such as the Mettupalayam Road, Maruthamalai Road etc. that were taken up years ago are still in progress as several teams of contractors and workers have come and gone. On any given day, reporters could count on a bagful of story of public lamenting against the Coimbatore Corporation’s inefficiency.
“Instead of being pulled up for their non performance, the top corporation officials have been rewarded,” points a city-based builder who points that corruption has increased manifold after the corporation council changed hands.
Members of the Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC) point out that none of the initiatives taken by the civic body has borne any fruit. “Be it the ban on plastics, drive against encroachments or the one against buildings that violated corporation norms have been used as mere tools for getting more bribes from the concerned people and has produced no concrete action,” says a member of RAAC on condition of anonymity.
Some months ago, a large group of councilors belonging to the ruling party itself had written a letter to the chief minister highlighting the problems in the functioning of the corporation and demanded a change at the top. “Public in our wards are suffering and complain to us all the time. Yet, we are unable to get any productive work done,” says a councilor from one of the newly added wards in the civic body.
For all the reporting on civic woes of Coimbatore, City Corporation has been patted with a reward. If the Best Corporation in the city works in this manner, one could only imagine the plight of the rest.