City’s major infrastructure dreams fail to get a push in annual budget

Kochi city failed to catch the attention of financial managers of the State. None of the major infrastructure projects of the city found mention in the annual budget presented at the State Assembly on Friday. The people’s representative from the city, including the legislator Hibi Eden and Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany, felt that the city didn’t get its due in the budget.

It was Finance Minister K.M. Mani’s silence on budget allocation for land acquisition related to rail overbridges (ROB) that worried Mr. Eden and Mr. Chammany the most. There is no reference about funds for acquiring land for the overbridge projects. The Atlantis ROB project, which got financial support from the State government, needs further government patronage. The local body was looking up to the State government for financial assistance for meeting the expenses related to land acquisition, they said.

While admitting that the Finance Minister had not earmarked funds for the much-awaited projects in the constituency, Mr. Eden said his decision to allot Rs. 100 crore as kerosene subsidy for fishermen would benefit a large number of fishermen in the district. Kochi deserved more budgetary support considering the revenue generated from the city, he said.

Regarding the Pachalam ROB, Mr. Eden was hopeful that the State government would come up with some important announcements shortly.

The Finance Minister’s announcement allocating Rs. 1 crore for a flyover in his constituency, Pala, caught the Kochi Mayor by surprise. While none of the flyover projects proposed from the bustling city got budgetary support, a proposal from his constituency won an allocation of Rs. 1 crore. The city needed better treatment, said Tony Chammany.

While refusing to earmark funds for the city’s projects, the Minister has announced funds in general for infrastructure projects. One needs to wait to find out city’s share from the general allocation, he said.The demands of the city regarding budgetary support would be brought to the attention of the legislators from the city, said the mayor. A memorandum would also be submitted to the Finance Minister seeking better treatment regarding sharing of resources, he said.

Meanwhile, the government proposal regarding the 100 per cent hike in property tax has worried Deputy Mayor B. Bhadra, who will be presenting the budget of the local body shortly.

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