Even as Finance Minister Thomas Isaac reiterated the State government's commitment to execute the proposed SmartCity Kochi project during his budget presentation, more than 50 families relocated for the project at Edachira are on the warpath alleging apathy on the part of authorities in providing the promised basic amenities on the land allotted for their rehabilitation.
“We were moved out in November 2008 and were promised power, water, and road on the rehabilitation land within six months. But till now we have got only electricity. If no steps are taken to fulfill the promises, we would stage a dharna in front of Infopark from the end of this month,” said P.A. Pareethukunju of the action council for the families displaced by the SmartCity project.
If things are not set straight before the onset of monsoon, life would become difficult, he said. He also said that the anganwadi promised on the land was yet to materialise. Only the land for the facility has been measured and demarcated but nothing more has happened, Mr. Pareethukunju said.
District Collector M. Beena, however, told the Hindu that the road could not be laid as Infopark, which was to bear the cost, found the estimate of Rs. 45 lakh given by the Public Works Department on the higher side and insisted on approval from the State government. Things remain there as of now.
Meanwhile, the Thrikkakkara panchayat had come forward to lay the road at a much reduced rate.
“We have asked the panchayat authorities to give it in writing and to submit an estimate,” Dr. Beena said.
As for water connectivity, she said that the deposit was made with the Kerala Water Authority and pipeline was laid only for the occupants of the land to find it insufficient. The demand is now for laying bigger pipes, the Collector said. Mr. Pareethukunju said that majority of the 58 families relocated had moved on to the rehabilitation land. He said that many officials and political leadership were oblivious of the incomplete state of affairs regarding rehabilitation.
“We are planning to take up the issue shortly under the Sutharya Kerala programme so that the Chief Minister is made aware of the problem,” he said.
He felt that the Chief Minister was under the impression that all promises had been fulfilled long back.
The rehabilitation package for the SmartCity Kochi evictees was considered a model one at the time it was declared. Each family was given 6 cents of land each and those who had given up more land had the option to buy another five cents at the same price at which their land was bought for the project.
Basic amenities were also promised on the land.