The government decision to defer the Broadway and Ernakulam Market Heritage Urban Renewal Project has evoked sharp criticism from people’s representatives in the city.
The authorities have reportedly decided to re-submit the project for the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and not to take it up during the current phase as only 11 months were left for the completion of the first JNNURM projects.
The Rs. 22-crore Broadway project was the only heritage conservation project sanctioned by the Mission for the State.
Hibi Eden, MLA, felt there was no justification for postponing the project to the second phase. The issue would be brought to the notice of the Chief Minister and the Minister for Urban Development. Representatives of traders and residents would petition the Chief Minister to revoke the decision and implement the project, he said.
The Finance Minister had offered support to the project in his speech at the State Assembly following a silent protest by the legislator during the last budget session.
Mayor Tony Chammany urged the State government to roll back the decision.
The government should immediately release the budgetary fund, which would take care of the excess tender amount quoted by the contractor for implementing the work.
Though the State government had earlier offered the amount, it had not released the fund, he said.
Mr. Chammany suggested that at least a few components of the project, which could be implemented before the March 2014 deadline, be initiated. The corporation would soon approach the Chief Minister and the Ministers concerned seeking steps for the implementation of the project, he said.
Deputy Mayor B. Bhadra felt the project cost would escalate further if it was not implemented during the current phase of the Mission. It was one project that should have been implemented much earlier, she said.
Kerala Merchants’ Union has also protested against the government’s move.
The trading community was hoping that the fortunes of the heritage area would be renewed with the implementation of the project, said a joint statement issued by union president K. Venkitesh Pai and general secretary K.A. Shaji.