The State government’s move to reconstitute the Kollam, Thrissur and Kozhikode development authorities has come in for criticism.
Official sources told The Hindu here on Tuesday that reconstitution of the authorities that were dissolved during the tenure of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government would only prove to be a drain on the exchequer and would in no way galvanise the urban infrastructure development works that were currently being managed by the civic bodies.
Except Wayanad and Malappuram, all districts had authorities and they were under the Local Self-Government Department. The lone exception was the Goshree Island Development Authority which continues to be under the Chief Minister. Substantial sums the GIDA had earned by selling the land it had developed were reported to be remaining idle and it was also paying a handsome amount as income tax.
The previous government chose to retain the Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority (TRIDA) and the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) and dissolved all the other 10 authorities. Their assets and liabilities were vested with the Corporations and municipalities. The two authorities were spared from dissolution considering the projects for constructing roads and commercial complexes taken up by them.
Most of the authorities were remaining dormant and the functions assigned to them were nothing but a duplication of the activities of the urban civic bodies.
The Kollam Development Authority had run a housing scheme for low income groups by availing itself of a loan from Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited (HUDCO). The monthly loan instalments remitted by the beneficiaries were reportedly used for meeting the establishment expenses.
The Idukki Development Authority possessed about 400 acres of land and the Kozhikode Development Authority had 14 commercial complexes.
Almost all of them were functioning as an appendage to the Public Works Department, primarily acquiring land for road development and other purposes.
There were complaints that the government had to pump in huge sums to meet the establishment expenses of the authorities which did not yield any returns. Maintaining a large complement of staff without any returns was found to be unviable and it was decided to transfer the staff for strengthening Corporations.
The move to revive the authorities would only offer scope for the United Democratic Front (UDF) to accommodate its leaders as chairmen. It would in no way tone up the civic administration or infrastructure development ventures, the sources said.