What’s there in a name? A lot, if it is about roads within Kochi Corporation limits.
The town planning committee of the corporation is flooded with requests for naming roads after one influential personality or the other that it is mulling over codifying the names of the corporation roads.
Town planning committee sources told The Hindu on Saturday that even landmark roads in the city such as Ernakulam Market Road, Hospital Road, Cannon Shed Road, and YMCA Road have not been spared from this frenzy over name change to keep personal or familial legacy aglow.
Then there are instances in which roads are renamed overnight by interested parties without bothering to follow municipal rules. One such case of arbitrary re-christening of roads is now before the High Court and is likely to come up for hearing next week. C.D. Thomas and Sudheer K. Gopal, residents of division 11 of the corporation in Thoppumppady, petitioned the High Court stating that Pallichal Road in their division was renamed V.S. Krishnan Bhagavathar Road in the morning of March 3. The petitioners alleged that a strong lobby was at work in getting roads and streets within the corporation limits renamed after taking bribes.
There is another catch in renaming roads. If a change in road name is not properly reflected in corporation files, there may come to exist two roads at least on documents. “The lobby of unscrupulous contractors takes advantage of this and drains corporation of its resources every year in the name of maintenance and repair of such non-existent roads,” Mr. Thomas said.
“In the case of renaming Pallichal Road, even the division councillor Celine Peter was kept in the dark. It has now become clear that councillor of the neighbouring division was behind this action,” Mr. Thomas alleged.
An allegation corroborated by the Town Planning Committee sources and Ms Peter.
Neither has the division councillor given a letter recommending change of name nor has the ward committee passed a resolution for renaming. As per section 379 of the Kerala Municipality Act, a street vested in and maintained by the Corporation shall be named or renamed after seeking the opinion of the ward committees or ward sabhas concerned.
“Our ward committee has neither recommended a name change nor has the council approved it. I have sent a complaint to the Mayor and the corporation secretary on the issue. Councillor of the neighbouring division, R Thyagarajan, is behind renaming of the road,” Ms. Peter said. It is pointed out that the council’s decision to refurbish the corporation boards displaying the road names was exploited to bring about a name change. The councillor in question may have prevailed over the contractor entrusted with renovating the boards, town planning sources said.
R Thyagaragan has refuted the allegations. “Division councillor’s letter recommending name change of the road is on record. Corporation secretary is also aware of the name change and council has approved the name change on December 29 2012,” he said. The town planning committee and the corporation secretary had also opposed the arbitrary name change while directing to reinstate the old name. Despite that the old name was yet to be restored, the petition said.
Arbitrary change of road names has been reported from other parts of the corporation. Kalvathi Road in Mattancherry was found named after a person one fine morning, town planning sources said.