People protest in areas marked as strategic zones in the plan

The city Corporation council has unanimously asked the State government to scrap the draft master plan for Thiruvananthapuram city and amend the Kerala Town and Country Planning Ordinance 2013. The decision was taken at a council meeting held on Wednesday to discuss the issue, following protests Kattayikkonam, Mangottukonam, Attipra, and Kadakampally over the marking of residential areas as strategic zones in the plan.

Kattayikkonam councillor G. Vinod, who opened the three-hour debate, said the plan was aimed at helping the land mafia at the cost of the interests of common people.

“As per the draft plan, only those who have more than 2.5 acres will be able to conduct building activities in these areas, whereas permits are denied to those with 5 or 10 cents of land. Also, the fact that Ayiroorpara in Pothencode panchayat is part of the plan is enough reason to reject it. This was prepared by surveyors using satellite maps,” he said.

Following this, a group of Bharatiya Janata Party workers barged into the council hall raising slogans against the Corporation and the government for creating such a master plan. Taken by surprise, the main opposition, United Democratic Front also took out a march along the hall periphery, alleging a nexus between BJP and the ruling CPI (M). The BJP workers were removed by the police.

When the meeting reconvened, Mayor K. Chandrika expressed her displeasure at the BJP councillors for trying to score political points rather than working together.

Works Standing Committee Chairman V.S. Padmakumar said that no social impact analysis was conducted before preparing the plan. “When the draft master plan was published, we requested the town planning department to publish a version in Malayalam. But they just published a shortened version in ten pages without survey numbers. The draft master plan has already been made applicable in all areas recently added to the Corporation. All construction activities in these areas, including housing complexes under the Basic Services to the Urban Poor project, have been frozen,” he said.

The Mayor said that the Chief Town Planner as well as Minister for Urban Affairs Manjalamkuzhi Ali had said that the master plan would be applicable only after the draft was finalised. This had led to the council approving the draft plan earlier.

On Wednesday, an action council formed by residents of Kattayikkonam and vicinity observed a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the area and took out a protest march to the village office.