Wracked by allegations of corruption, the Coimbatore Corporation is no stranger to its officers being accused of demanding bribes. But matters took a shocking turn on Monday, when a Deputy Collector rank officer approached the district Collectorate, alleging that officers at the Singanallur East Corporation office were demanding Rs.25,000 from him to fix two water connections.
M Supiramaniyan, who works as an accounts officer cum lecturer at the Civil Service Training institute (CSTI) in Bhavanisagar, tells TNM, that his efforts to get the water connections spans across three years. The 56-year-old has his residence in Coimbatore and has visited the Corporation office multiple times to no avail.
"When I first went three years back, I paid Rs.30,000 for both connections and waited for the installation for a year. Every time I asked, I was told to wait. Finally, the then Assistant Commissioner Ramachandran told me to pay Rs 25,000. I refused to do it and then they said that my application got lost," he alleges. "I filed it again and persisted, which was when Ramachandran told me that even if I go to the Chief Minister, I won't get connections without the bribe," he further alleges.
While the Assistant Commissioner was transferred before the Lok Sabha Elections, there is still no change in the status of his connection.
"Finally, on Monday, I went and filed a complaint with the Collector," says Supiramaniyan. "If this is state of an educated government employee, I can't imagine how these officers treat uneducated or underprivileged residents who approach them," he says.
And the accounts officer is not incorrect in his assumption.
Only in May this year, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption highlighted again the issues of corruption in the civic body. The DVAC arrested the Coimbatore Corporation's North Zone Assistant Commissioner K Ravi Kumar for demanding a bribe of Rs 15,000 from a person who wanted his house to be assessed for property tax. According to The Hindu, three tasks that civic officials usually demand bribe for are - water connections, assessing building for property tax and approval of plans for buildings.
59-year-old Manickam, a resident of Coimbatore, alleges he faced a similar road block only last month.
"My home was constructed as per plan but when I went to request them of assessment of property tax, they kept delaying it," he says. "They then said that I need to 'keep them happy' by which it was clear that I had to grease their palms. But I refused and threatened to go to the police. They finally relented and did the needful," he alleges.
However, in Supiramaniyan's case, despite the complaint to the Collector, there has been minimal progress.
"The Collector told me to meet an engineer on Friday. I have to get permission at my workplace and go see how this pans out now," he says.
Coimbatore Collector K.Rajamani tells TNM that the Corporation is conducting an inquiry based on the complaint received.
"His water connection will be given as per procedure," he says, dismissing the already existing three year delay.