The government decision to cut Rs. 2.5 crore from its annual plan fund allocation to Kochi Corporation may upset the construction of roads, canals, drains and even the maintenance of hospitals in the city. The decision has come at a time when the implementation of a large number of such projects has been derailed in the city. The cut was made from the Rs. 40.28 crore allotted to the civic body.
The State government deducted the amount from the plan fund to allocate it back to the civic body for land acquisition for the proposed sewage treatment plant at Elamkulam.
The government decision will hit the implementation of the projects in Kochi in the long run, admitted Mayor Tony Chammany. A large number of projects may remain non-starters and a few others would be lagging behind schedule causing inconvenience to the general public.
The contractors of the Kochi Corporation prefer to take up the works implemented using plan funds as they would get the payments immediately on completion of the works. In other cases, it may take years for them to get the money.
K.N. Sunilkumar, parliamentary party leader of the CPI (M) in the council, said the decision would upset all works implemented in the city under the people’s plan programme. There is also the possibility of some contractors being denied payment even after the completion of the work, he said.
The Kochi Corporation may not be able to complete a large number of projects before the March 31 deadline as it had to re-tender around 300 projects following charges of corruption. Besides the delay caused by the re-tendering, financial constraints too would force the corporation to cut short its projects, he said.
The decision, according to K.J. Sohan, chairman of Town Planning Standing Committee, would upset the purchase of medicines for hospitals and maintenance of city schools. The decision came at the fag end of the fiscal upsetting the plans of the civic body, he said.
Mr. Chammany felt there was no justification for cutting the plan fund for allotting funds for a project implemented in the city under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. For the mission projects, 50 per cent of the project cost would come as grant from the Centre and the rest needed to be raised by the State government and the local body. The cut in plan fund to recover the spending is hence unjustifiable, he said.