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Updated: June 16, 2011 10:30 IST

Improving lives on coastal zone tops MLA's priorities

Anand Haridas
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Dominic Presentation reveals his plan of action for Kochi constituency

Even for an MLA with as much experience as Dominic Presentation, his constituency remains a challenge. The newly-formed Kochi constituency covers a diverse population from the cosmopolitan urban crowd at Fort Kochi to the backward fishermen community along the coast to slum-dwellers of Mattanchery.

“If there is one issue that affects all these people, it is shortage of drinking water. This is going to be first in my list of priorities. I am trying to support the ongoing works that are progressing under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). It is believed that once these works are commissioned the water shortage of Kochi will be addressed to a great extent,” he says.

Mr. Presentation is familiar with the issues of the coastal zone as he had represented Palluruthy constituency earlier.

The new constituency formed during delimitation has a 19-km-long coastline. “The major issue faced by the coastal people is sea erosion. I have given a request for Rs.3.2 crore for breakwaters (pulimuttu) along the coast,” he says.

A new design of a ‘T'-shaped breakwater has been tried out at Kannamali and near INS Dronacharya, the Naval establishment. Mr. Presentation is demanding more such breakwaters along the coast as it is more effective in bringing down sea incursions.

“This is not enough. We need to build retaining walls parallel to the existing sea wall and also check the seeping in through walls. I have given a list of schemes estimated to cost around Rs.10 crore that need to be implemented in next couple of years.”

Mr. Presentation still remembers the suffering he witnessed among slum-dwellers during his election campaign.

His challenge is mounted by the fact that construction activities in Fort Kochi and Mattanchery heritage zones are restricted by law and there are many stretches of land available where no one has any clear idea about ownership. “I have seen nearly 10 families and their pet animals living in single room houses, which are already in dilapidated conditions.”

The condition of the fishermen community along the coast, especially in Kannamali and Chellanam areas are also much the same. “I am working on housing schemes for these people, where 50 per cent of the cost would be borne by the State government, rest by NGOs or voluntary organisations. The beneficiary will also have to add a nominal contribution or at least put in manual labour in this,” he said.

Mr. Presentation has also formed some grand plans to revive the lost glory of the heritage zone of Fort Kochi and Mattanchery.

“These areas, especially Mattanchery, used to be the commercial hub in the past. Now many of these warehouses are lying unused. I am in the process of initiating discussions with all concerned to check whether these can be linked to the emerging container terminals at Vallarpadom. This will ensure job for the local crowd and also bring back life to the streets of Mattanchery.”

He is also working on proposals for boosting the tourism industry. “The work of the State Highway that goes along the coast is already on. The State government is also planning to bring in AC and non-AC low floor buses. Linking these two, I am going to move a proposal like having non-stop tourist bus services connecting destinations like Munnar and Kovalam with Fort Kochi.”

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