Tuesday, July 26, 2005

When people mattered

When people mattered
The Hindu

The municipal councillors of the city, once upon a time, were an exemplary lot

In 1901, municipal councillors gave up the privilege of having peons

Municipal councillors are generally known to make the best of all that is offered to them. But in February 1941, municipal councillors, quite unbelievably, decided unanimously that the supply of lunch to them during the council's meetings be stopped and no provision be made for this purpose in the coming budget. Municipal Councillor Usman Khan had in 1917 accompanied Executive Engineer D'Cruz and Municipal Engineer T. Ramachandra Rao to Bombay to study the drainage system there, at his own cost. In 1879, the municipality resolved that oil mills located in the crowded habitations of the city should be shifted outside the town, as their presence was a source of inconvenience and annoyance to the public. In 1901, the councillors gave up the privilege of having peons who used to accompany them during assessments and inspections.

The municipality had maintained an annachattram (a free boarding place), where generally one meal was provided in the noon to travellers. There was also a choultry maintained for Tirupathi pilgrims where dry rations were given. Another institution of the municipality was the langarkhana, where money and grain doles were issued to the destitute once a week and clothes once a year.

In September 1928, the councillors unanimously passed a resolution requesting the Government to keep the Lalbagh exclusively open for women once a week. When the Director of Public Instruction in Mysore recommended that all primary schools in the State be held in the morning hours between 7.30 a.m. and 11 a.m., the municipal councillors felt that in view of the responsibility that girls have in doing household chores, school timings for them may be fixed between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. In 1929, when the Government raised fees in educational institutions, the municipal councillors requested it to withdraw the hike as it would hurt the public and hit education. In September 1938, the municipal council decided not to send delegates to the II Triennial Session of the All India Local Self-government Conference at Delhi as it would incur extra expenditure.

In August 1924, as per the proposition moved by Councillor Mohammed Abbas Khan, the municipal council decided that a sum of Rs. 3,000 be provided from municipal funds towards relief for losses sustained by the people in Shimoga, Nanjangud, T. Narasipura and other places due to heavy and unprecedented floods caused by the rivers Cauvery and Tungabhadra. In August 1946, the municipal council decided to grant a relief amount of Rs. 5,000 towards clothes to the famine stricken in Chitradurga district. The councillors also contributed to the subscription, which came up to more than Rs. 1,000. Some members donated clothes from their mills and shops.

In November 1945, the municipal council passed a resolution with a majority of votes with the idea of imposing a ban on the use of milk for the preparation of khova and other milk products in hotels, so as to enable the availability of fresh milk to children and expectant mothers. In September 1946, the council approved the opinion of the health committee that opening of milk bars be encouraged as a substitute for coffee bars.

The country faced severe food shortage soon after the Partition. This prompted the Government of Mysore to impose a ban on the sale of idlis, dosas and other foods made from non-rationed groceries at hotels and restaurants. Protesting against this decision, the proprietors of all hotels in Bangalore and other parts of the State decided to close their hotels indefinitely from July 1, 1949. As this move affected thousands of people, particularly students, labourers and the floating population, the municipal council held an urgent special meeting on July 1, 1949, and resolved to start four municipal canteens in the city and in localities absolutely in need of it and set apart Rs. 15,000 for this purpose.


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