Says many important projects have been denied funds

V. Sivankutty, Nemom MLA, alleged here on Sunday that the revised State Budget presented by Finance Minister K.M. Mani had ignored the development needs of the city and choked several priority projects of financial support.

At a press conference, he said the failure to earmark funds would scuttle many major projects, such as the proposal for development of the Attukal township, the widening of the National Highway stretch from Karamana to Kaliyikkavila, and construction of roads and bridges and hospital infrastructure.

“The Rs.361-crore Attukal township project, to be implemented in three phases, involves improvement of basic facilities for lakhs of women participating in the annual Pongala festival, widening of roads, redesign of junctions, provision of parking facilities, water supply, and sewerage, and building of a fire station, bus stations, and an amusement park. Different agencies are involved in the implementation. The previous budget presented by the then Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac had allocated Rs.10 crore for the first phase of the project. By not earmarking a single rupee in his revised budget, Mr. Mani has virtually brought the ambitious project to a halt,” he said.

Mr. Sivankutty said devotees and residents in the 18 wards identified for the township were feeling let down. “By denying funds for the much-needed development of the temple township, Mr. Mani is challenging the very secular nature of the budget,” he said.

The MLA said the budget had allocated a meagre Rs.30 crore for the development of city roads, against the Rs.250 crore earmarked by the then Left Democratic Front government last year. “It is a matter of concern that the budget has completely neglected key institutions such as the Government Medical College Hospital, the Women and Children Hospital, Thycaud, the Government Homoeo Hospital at Iranimuttam and the Panchakarma Hospital and Women and Children Ayurveda Hospital at Poojappura. There is no outlay for major projects such as the development of the airport, second phase of the roads project, and the City Corporation's garbage plant at Vilappil. For the Vizhinjam project, Mr. Mani has merely repeated last year's budgetary allocation,” he said.

Canal cleaning

Mr. Sivankutty said the Budget had even ignored the need to clean up the heavily polluted Parvathy Puthanar canal, a project included in the Chief Minister's 100-day fast-track programme. “Despite our requests, Mr. Mani has failed to provide funds for the G.V. Raja Football Tournament in Thiruvananthapuram,” he said.

Describing the budget as one entirely focussed on Pala, Mr. Mani's home constituency, Mr. Sivankutty said there was no justification for cutting off funds for critical infrastructure projects such as the construction of groins to check erosion at Panathura. “The LDF government had sanctioned Rs.15 crore for the project that was designed to address the pollution of the Karamana river also. The projects in the pipeline that have been denied budgetary support include the Karamana-Pallathukadavu bridge, the Melode bund, sidewalls for the Karamana river, modernisation of the Children's Home, Poojappura, construction of a building for the Social Welfare Directorate, and the Thirumala-Kunnapuzha, Ambalathura-Poonthura, Thirumala-Mangattukadavu, and Thrikkannapuram- Poozhikunnu roads,” he said.

Mr. Sivankutty alleged that the Finance Minister had made a mockery of the budget by providing outlay for completed projects such as the Attukal and the Thrikkannapuram bridges.