Despite the allocation of special funds for basic infrastructure arrangements to be made as part of the Attukal pongala festival, most of the works taken up by various government departments will remain unfinished even after the festival begins.
The state government had sanctioned Rs 12 crores for developing basic infrastructure, including roads, water supply, drains and street lights, in 18 Corporation wards surrounding Attukal Bhagavathy Temple on account of the festival.
However, officials who participated in the final review meeting on pongala festival arrangement chaired by Chief Minister Oommen on Wednesday said that they will not be able to complete all the works because of shortage of time.
The ten-day festival at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple begins on February 28. The famed Attukal Pongala will be held on the penultimate day of the festival on March 7.
Out of the total amount sanctioned, Rs 6 crores have been earmarked for improvement of Corporation roads in these wards. However, Corporation engineer who was present at the meeting said that works worth only Rs 3 crores have been tendered so far.
This includes 46 road improvement works out of which 10 works have already been started. The official said that apart from this, 13 works taken up under the plan fund of the Department will also be completed before the festival. However, the remaining works amounting to another Rs 3 crores as allocated under the special fund cannot be completed before the festival, the official added.
Mr Chandy directed the Corporation officials to complete the tendered works before March 4.
Officials from Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), which was allocated Rs 3 crores, said that around 1800 new tube lights will be bought at a cost of Rs 48 lakh as for replacing street lights. Only this work can be completed before the festival. Rest of the works have not been tendered so far.
The tendering process for the Rs 1 crore work of Minor Irrigation Department for cleaning drains and covering the drains using cover-slabs has also not been done. Major Irrigation Department has, meanwhile, consented to carry out urgent cleaning works of the Amayizhanjan Canal as part of the Attukal pongala preparations.
Corporation health officer D. Sreekumar however said that all arrangements for sanitation of temple premises and surrounding areas have been completed. An amount of Rs 2 crore has been allocated for the purpose under the special fund.
Kerala Water Authority official said that construction works on 18 drainage lines in the festival area will be completed immediately. Arrangements have also been made to distribute drinking water to pongala devotees.
Briefing on the security arrangements made as part of the festival city police commissioner T.J. Jose said that 4000 police personnel, including women police constables and police personnel from other districts will be deployed for the festival.
Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will be operating 155 buses to the temple with 2000 services. The Fire and Rescue Department, meanwhile, will be starting a special control room at the Chenkalchoola fire station on account of the festival.
Concluding the review meeting the Chief Minister told department officials to ensure that all works taken up by them are completed as per the deadline set in the meeting. Another review meeting will be held after the festival to monitor this, he said.
Urban Affairs Minister P.K. Kunjhalikutty, Devaswom Minister V.S. Sivakumar, MLA V. Sivankutty, mayor K. Chandrika, DGP Jacob Punnoose, collector K.N. Satheesh, Corporation councillor, senior officials of various departments and Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust office bearers were present at the meeting.
"This time there has been no lack of funds. But I understand that by the time the funds were allocated there was little time to complete the works. However the works taken up should be completed as scheduled,’’ Mr Oommen Chandy said.