Going by the track record of the Chandigarh municipal corporation in the past 10 months - futile discussions, debates on non-issues and a lot of avoidable banter - the councillors have a lot of catching up to do if they want to make sense of the last two meetings of the year. The 10 monthly meetings till October cost the public exchequer around Rs 10 lakh, and 70 hours were spent on the proceedings, with little to show for it.
Of these meetings, six were adjourned without any discussion on civic issues concerning the residents. The main issues raised by the opposition led by the BJP were the alleged involvement of Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal in the railway bribery scam, in which his nephew was arrested by the CBI in May. Bansal has already resigned as the railway minister after the arrest and has subsequently got a clean chit from the CBI. But the opposition saved its sharpest and stingiest ammunition for mayor Subhash Chawla.
Among issues that got some lip service are the stray dog menace, the cattle menace, waterlogging, encroachments, water scarcity and shortage of sweepers. But the discussions did not lead to respite on any count. The civic body has also not approved or initiated any new project in the past one year.
Nominated councillor Shagfuta Parveen said, "The House meetings throughout the year were sheer waste of money and time. It is sad that discussions on various agendas took place, but there was no outcome. The situation in the city has gone from bad to worse."
BJP councillor Arun Sood, who is also the leader of the opposition, said, "Since the ruling Congress has majority, it approves most of the agenda items, like house tax, budget and construction of multi-level parking in Sector 17, without any debate. We only want discussion on important issues, which they never allow."
But mayor Chawla blamed the BJP in turn, "In the past 10 months, the BJP has been discussing only non-issues. They do not want development of the city, but are making up issues eyeing the Lok Sabha elections due next year. Most of the meetings were adjourned due to their unruly behavior."