Celebratory meeting to be held on Monday evening

Giving in to the long-standing demand of the residents of Mulavukad island for a decent road, the State government has finally accorded sanction for the first phase development of the 5.5-km long internal road.

Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA) officials had promised to launch the work within 24 hours of the receipt of the government order in this regard, said P.V. Udayan, chairman, Mulavukad Grama Samrakshana Samara Samithi.

The Hindu had recently highlighted the plight of the people of the panchayat due to bad roads.

The government decision comes on the eve of the second phase of the protest organised by the Samithi. It had called for a day-long hartal to mark the launch of the second phase on Monday. Besides, S. Sarma, Vypeen MLA, was to sit on a 24 hour-long hunger strike along with 101 volunteers of the Samithi at the Goshree Junction to draw attention to the plight of the residents of the panchayat.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy rang up Mr. Sarma and also issued him a copy of the government order. “We have called off the hartal and hunger strike following the government decision,” said Mr. Udayan.

Instead, a celebratory meeting will be held at the northern end of the panchayat on Monday evening. Literary critic M.K. Sanoo will inaugurate the meeting and Mr. Sarma will read out the government order. Representatives of various political parties will also speak.

The road development was long overdue and when the tenders were finally invited after much delay, a technical hitch of receiving only a single tender held up the work. Besides, the tender amount was 22 per cent more than the estimate drawn up for the work.

Stating that it was not authorized to proceed on the tender if the amount quoted exceeded 15 per cent of the estimate, the Goshree Islands Development Authority forwarded it for the sanction of the Finance Department.

When this further delayed the work, the islanders demanded that the government either cancel the single tender and invite fresh tenders or give sanction to proceed on the single tender. However, inviting fresh tenders would have further delayed the work.

Now the government has sanctioned the work based on the single tender, Mr. Udayan said.

In the first phase, the 2.5-km stretch from the northern end of the panchayat to Military camp will be developed. The back-breaking journey along the narrow and pot-holed road had been the bane of the residents of the panchayat for years now. All 13 private buses that operated through the panchayat road suspended services, as the condition of the road worsened.

The panchayat was also in a quandary as it could not even do routine maintenance works of the road due to the uncertainty about the launch of the road development works.

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