Youth as Catalysts and Change Makers Book

 

Vazhikattum Valluvan Book

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Municipality and its functions

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What is the role of a municipality?

It is the duty of the municipal council, a body of elected representatives to pass resolutions for taking up works for the benefit of the people. It is the duty of the officials to carry out these resolutions. But the officials do not act sincerely and without any bias.

All that is required in a municipal town are :

  • Water supply for all house holds,
  • Good roads and drainage everywhere
  • Lights for all streets
  • Healthy environment on all streets
  • E-Governance

If all these five factors are taken care of, in a span of 5 years the municipality will get self sufficiency on these fronts. With proper tax collection and judicious use of central and state govt. grants all the basic amenities of the municipality could be got fulfilled. This requires a committed band of officials. But how these so called public servants with the backing of higher ups conduct themselves is a shame by itself. These public servants, once they take up their jobs in the Govt. feel secure and act as business men and commission agents. In the guise of doing some work they will always look of greener pastures in the field of work.

People are aware that public money is being looted. They are also subjected to harassment by the demand for bribe for all the works to be got done in various Govt offices. Itís true that most of them are not willing players in the act of palm greasing. But what to do? Where to go? Where does the remedy lie? Times are past when there were upright control officers and honest police. Alas, they are now hand in gloves with such corrupt elements. We are only too well aware of the attitude of the police when it comes to taking action against perpetrators of fraud, what with Dr.Valluvanís tryst with the police in the stationery case.

Some people tend to place trust in the vigilance and anticorruption wing. Dr.Valluvan has a case in point against this. He detected fraud in the purchase of mosquito repellant fluid by the virudhachalam municipality during the period earlier to his. An astounding amount of Rs.25 lakhs was spent in a single year for the purchase of mosquito repellant fluid, where as, people in the town were not sure when and where the repellant was sprayed. The stock book entries appeared dubious. This was referred to the vigilance and anti corruption wing and the enquiry is going on and on for the past five years. By the time the case is finalized the concerned officials may retire. In the mean time they may happily indulge in such glorious activities wherever they work.. If all the machinery set up by the Govt. function with sincerity and independence, corruption would be on the wane. But the virus of corruption seems to have afflicted these arms of the Govt also.

People detest bribery and corruption. But they donít complain. They choose to remain silent. Because there is no reliable authority to listen to their complaint and come to help. Even if some action is initiated with great difficulty, there is always this inevitable delay, delay and more delay. And at last the culprit is allowed to escape. People are wary that it is futile to fight corruption and bribery. For the simple reason that even after being caught red handed the corruptive elements are given all assistance and opportunities to wriggle out unscathed. Well, in such a scenario, where the vigilance and anticorruption wings of the Govt are rendered ineffective, what then is the way out. Dr.Valluvan comes with the following suggestions.

To start with, People should elect men of integrity and selflessness to the local bodies, which would go a long way in containing corruption.

An independent and autonomous supervisory set up on the lines of the Election Commission should be put in place to monitor the functioning of the local bodies.

This set up may consist of experts in various fields who would ensure that the projects are implemented according to specifications and schedule. A close watch on the execution of projects would greatly contribute to curbing corruption.

All complaints should be disposed of within a time limit, say 3 to 6 months. Hearing should be done on day to day basis. Punishment should be prompt and severe as in the case of Court martial. Eye wash actions like suspension and disciplinary proceedings will not serve the purpose.

Can honest men ensure transparency and good administration by having such a Commission? ĎIt is absolutely possibleí asserts Dr.Valluvan citing instances from his own experience..

  • Unlike in the past, additional school buildings were constructed in his time by judicious management of revenue from education tax.
  • Issue of Birth and death certificates and approval of building plans, were done within a specific time limit without any one having to pay up bribe to anybody.
  • Assessment of property tax was based on Patna model, facilitating owners of buildings to assess and remit the property tax by themselves. The avenues to extort bribe by the municipal staff was thus completely obviated and the revenue from property tax rose considerably.
  • By additional filling up of the water tank the distribution efficiency was improved by 50% without extra expenditure.
  • The huge amount collected as bribe by the staff of the water works dept for giving water supply house service connections was completely eradicated, and only the amount fixed as per rules was collected from consumers. People were made aware of the procedures and the correct tariff through local cable TV net work.
  • Municipal council meetings were video recorded, and telecast over local cable net work for the information of the public to ensure transparency in the administration.
  • Fraud to the tune of Rs.25 lakhs in the purchase of mosquito repellent was detected and reported to the vigilance for enquiry.
  • Attempt at misappropriation of about Rs.2.5 lakhs in the dubious purchase of stationery was thwarted by timely action.
  • More than 500 new street lights were installed in many unserved localities, driving away the darkness that prevailed for more than 20 years.
  • Audit reports of the municipality spanning over 35 years involving a whopping Rs.7.00 crore rupees were taken out and reported to Govt. The assistance of the State Information commission has been sought for getting necessary information for settling the matter and fixing responsibility.
  • Mobile phones were provided to all the employees of the municipality, and the numbers were publicized to enable the public to contact the officials without having to visit the office.
  • More significantly, by sheer hard work, dedication and judicious planning, and with the cooperation of the willing public, Dr.Valluvan ensured that the municipality made a miraculous turn around financially. At the time of his taking over as Chairman in the year 2001, the municipality was in the red to the tune of Rs.50 lakhs, and the poor employees of the municipality were not paid their salary for 5 months. At the end of his term in 2006, the municipality had a healthy balance of Rs.2.4 crores.

All this was achieved by Dr.Valluvan in the face of heavy odds, such as dishonest councilors, non-cooperative municipal staff, higher officials who backed them due to personal ulterior motives, political interference, and sabotage by unsocial elements and the like.

If Dr.valluvan could achieve commendable success in such an adverse situation, the sky is the limit for achievements if all the cited elements are honest, unselfish, society conscious, and patriotic. These men, if not on their own, have to be made honest by the people who should be vigilant. Besides, the rule of law should prevail.

To reiterate what was said before, what is of paramount importance is that people should elect as their representatives, men of impeccable integrity and high intellectual acumen. Govt. should for their part, establish an independent autonomous commission to watch, follow up and punish corrupt officials. It is enough if a legislation is passed and implemented. India can get out of the list of most corrupt countries. Not only that; we need not go after rich countries and world bank begging for loans. If corruption and bribery are rooted out , municipalities can ensure excellent service to the people, besides adopting some adjoining ailing villages. A corruption free country can automatically attain the status of a super power in pretty short period.

Dr.Valluvanís successful stint as the Chairman of Virudhachalam municipality is an out standing testimony of what a honest person can achieve and how he could dish out superlative service to the community and make it flourish. The people of Virudhachalam would stand witness to the meritorious services rendered by Dr.Valluvan at the expense of his lucrative practice as an ophthalmic surgeon.

According to Dr.Valluvan honest administration is possible and must. The youth of today should come forward to create such a dream India. They should breath honesty, live honestly, and work honestly. People should stand united behind such honest crusaders. They should keep a high vigil to ensure that unscrupulous and dishonest elements do not by hook or crook come to occupy the seats of power. If this could be achieved, we can then witness the resurrection of the noble India that Lord Macaulay saw in the year 1835.

Honesty can do it. Come one. Come all. Join us.

Achieve By Honesty : Dr.M.Valluvan No. 88 mariyamman kovil street Vriddhachalam - 606 001   - Email : drmvalluvan@ yahoo.com