Ninety-nine-year-old V.R. Krishna Iyer was out in the hot sun sitting on a dharna in front of the Kanayannur taluk office demanding fund allocation for an international level cancer centre in Kochi attached to the Cochin Medical College hospital at Kalamassery.
Sitting in front of the popular picketing corner, Mr. Iyer spent two hours at the dharna site. Many other prominent personalities in the city also joined the sit-in.
Mayor Tony Chammany; N. Venugopal, Chairman Greater Cochin Development Authority; former mayors Somasundara Panickar and K. Balachandran; actor Meera Nandan, representatives from all political parties, K. Chandran Pillai (CPI-M); C.G. Rajagopal (BJP); social activists like M.K. Prasad, K. Aravindakshan and members of organisations like the Maharaja’s Old Students’ Association and community forums like Ernakulam Karayogam, SNDP, and Latin Catholic Organisation.
Writer M.K. Sanoo; former Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala Agricultural University K R. Viswambharan; and city-based Dr. N. K. Sanil had been associated with the public movement headed by Mr. Iyer for quite some time.
The movement had given a call for protest on Saturday when Friday’s budget did not allocate funds for the cancer centre in Kochi. Even the Rs.5 crore earmarked in the last budget for a cancer centre in central Kerala got lapsed as it was not utilised.
When the Union Health Minister announced Rs. 45 crore for activities related to cancer treatment, there was no mention on funds for a Kochi-specific centre. Though the announcement in the Assembly on Monday of prominent oncologist V.P. Gangadharan taking up the role of special officer in the advisory panel was welcomed, the protesters asked the government to allocate funds to get on with the work on the cancer institute.