In Kochi, new civic body to cope with many inherited problems

With projects at the Kochi Corporation having hit hurdles mounted by procedural delays, the COVID-induced lockdown and near-empty coffers this year, the new council will have to resolve many inherited problems.

The lockdown and then the contractors’ strike when their dues were not paid left several files pending, said a former Congress councillor. Those projects, particularly on roads and streetlights, would have to be dusted off and revived, he added.

The Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) housing tower in Thuruthy was one such project that would have to be completed on priority basis, said another former UDF councillor. On the reason for the UDF’s failure to complete it, he said that consistent opposition had kept the towers from materialising.

The e-governance project, which would permit online tax payment and grant birth, death and marriage certificates online, would also have to be implemented immediately, said C.D. Valsala Kumari, LDF councillor from Vennala, who is returning to the council for a third term. The Corporation had not been able to identify land for the implementation of housing projects for the landless, she added. Those projects were also to be taken up on priority, she said.

First-timers in the council would like to see some new projects implemented. “The Corporation does not have any artistic spaces for cultural performances. The Subhas Bose Park could be turned into one such space that could save performing artistes the rent that they shell out for an auditorium,” said Sasikala Devidas, a Kathakali artiste and councillor representing Ravipuram.

Decentralised waste management could be implemented effectively in the divisions, given time and encouragement among residents’ associations, said Dipin Dileep, the councillor representing Ponurunni East.

A master plan was crucial to handle the perpetual waterlogging menace, said an outgoing LDF councillor. Crores of rupees was spent every year on cleaning the canals with no clear purpose, he added. The former Congress councillor added that the Corporation Council would have to work closely with the Operation Breakthrough team to be able to resolve the problems in the city’s canal network ahead of the monsoon next year.

Both former councillors also pointed out that waste management would have to be the new council’s top priority. “The plan for a waste-to-energy plant has not progressed after the contract with the previous company was cancelled. To prevent a disaster at Brahmapuram, the council will have to ensure that work progresses,” he said.

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