Ernakulam MLA Hibi Eden will remain silent when the House discusses the Budget to protest against the neglect shown towards the interests of Kochi in the State Budget.
A MLA of the ruling front is expected to speak in favour of the Budget.
“I will not oppose the Budget. Instead, I, K.M. Shaji and M.P. Vincent will remain silent to mark our protest and highlight the regional imbalances in the Budget,” Mr. Eden said.
The Finance Minister failed to keep his word that the names of constituencies would not be mentioned in the Budget speech, he said.
“Moreover, when the names were mentioned violating the promise, Ernakulam wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the speech. Kochi should have been given a special package for accelerating its development projects. Over 50 per cent of the State’s revenue is generated from the city. Yet, the city didn’t get its due from the Minister,” he said.
“I will not call it a bad budget. It’s in fact a good budget. However, a few essential projects, which needed State support didn’t find any reference in the Minister’s speech and documents. As a legislator, I will be present in the State Assembly during the Budget discussion. However, I will raise my protest against the neglect through my silence,” he said.
Kochi was among the eight cities in the country which were selected for a heritage improvement programme through the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission project. The Ernakulam market and Broadway heritage conservation projects required budgetary support for its implementation. However, that had not happened, he pointed out.
The legislator said that it was high time that a special package was announced in the Budget for the development of the city. Thiruvananthapuram used to get support for its projects in the form of capital city development funds. A package for Kochi should be formulated for taking forward the development of the city, he said.
The neglect shown towards establishing a super speciality centre at the Ernakulam General Hospital also infuriated the young legislator.
Despite identifying the land required for setting up the centre within the city, the State government had failed to earmark funds for it. Though Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the Cooperative Minister had expressed their willingness for the government taking over the Kochi Cooperative Medical College, there was no budgetary proposal for that, which was unjustifiable, Mr. Eden said.
Meanwhile, the civic administrators have started approaching the legislators for funds and projects fearing that the reduced budget allocation may hit its city projects. They have also held informal parleys with the legislators from the city to raise its grouse in the State Assembly during the Budget discussion.
The civic authorities were hoping that the Finance Minister would earmark a considerable amount in the Budget for addressing the development needs of Kochi. The corporation authorities also harbour a fear that reduced allocation in the State Budget may take the sheen out of its Annual Budget, to be presented at the corporation council hall during the week.