‘Embarrassed’ Chandigarh mayor drops Kolkata from study tour
This comes a day after Rajesh Kalia faced flak for saying councillors will be studying smart city projects in Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram, the former which is not in the Centre’s list of smart cities and the latter which ranked lower than Chandigarh in smart city rankingUpdated: Dec 12, 2019 00:42 IST
Mayor Rajesh Kalia has now dropped Kolkata from the civic body’s upcoming study tour , saying the five-day tour starting December 21 will only be confined to Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).
This comes a day after Kalia faced major embarrassment with his statement that councillors will be studying smart city projects in Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram despite the fact that West Bengal’s capital is not even on the Centre’s 100 smart city list, and Thiruvananthapuram ranked even lower than Chandigarh in the Centre’s last year smart city ranking.
Now, Kalia claims he dropped Kolkata from the itinerary as most councillors who had agreed to go there had changed their minds. However, sources said that Kalia took the call after meeting party colleagues in the light of his failure to justify the tour’s agenda and growing public criticism against the trip.
City residents were critical even of UT adviser Manoj Parida who sanctioned the tour without knowing the purpose of the trip. He simply gave approval on the mayor’s one page note which had no detailed information about their trip.
Falters again on tour’s agenda again
Last week, Kalia had said that councillors would study the working of MCs in Kolkata and Kerala. Then on Tuesday he claimed they would study smart city projects. On Wednesday, he again changed the tour’s agenda saying the focus of the tour will be on urban planning matters, municipal solid waste and segregation of door-to -door garbage and parking solutions besides getting familiar with the guidelines of road re-carpeting.
Again, the mayor seems to be ignorant of Thiruvananthapuram’s very poor performance this year in the Swachh Survekshan as it ranked 363rd in comparison to Chandigarh which stood 21st in rank.
Vinod Vashisht, convener CFORWO (city forum of residents welfare organisations) said it was ironical that Chandigarh councillors are going to study waste management of a city that performed poorly in Swachh Survekshan. “If this is the level of our elected representatives, the city can never get top ranking in Swachh Survekshan,” he said.
Congress demands cancelation of tour
Meanwhile, Congress councillors, while denouncing the wastage of money when MC was short of funds, have demanded the tour be cancelled. Congress councillor Satish Kainth said the mayor should cancel the tour as it was being planned without any application of mind.
People are expressing their displeasure at MC councillors wasting funds for their leisure, he said. “Being a responsible councillor, I respect the citizens’ sentiment. You, in a responsible position should respect it and cancel the tour,” Kainth told mayor in a letter.
Meanwhile, number of councillor who have refused to go for the tour has increased to 20, while only 15 councillors have given consent. The mayor on Wednesday called Congress leader of Opposition Devinder Babla to convince him to join them for the tour, but Babla declined, saying his party will not be part of BJP’s extravagant affair.