Unlike last year, when his budget was criticised for its ‘over’ focus on Kottayam, the 10th Budget presented by K M Mani on Monday appears to be a mixed bag for his home turf.
While the infrastructure and agriculture sectors in the two districts have enough to cheer about, the inland fisheries sector and traditional sectors like screwprine mat makers and coir sector in Vaikom have little to look forward to.
Says K Ajith MLA from Vaikom: “It is a total let down. The speech has failed to address the issues faced by traditional and inland fisheries sector, it has also failed incorporate the projects recommended by us like the setting up of a new Fire Station or the development of Pala-Vechoor Road or the construction of a few bridges,” he said.
The budget addresses the long time demand by Nair Service Society (NSS) for the constitution of a Welfare Corporation for the Economically Backward among the Forward Communities with a provision of Rs.10 crore. While a host of projects have found their place through token amounts in the speech, one of the largest provision of Rs. 50 crore has been earmarked for the Meenachil River Valley Irrigation Project. However, the most look forward to initiative would be the municipal waste management project here, along with the three major corporations, which will be operated on a public-private-participation (PPP). Rs. 100 Crore has been earmarked for the four projects.
Other important projects in the infrastructure sector are, the air strip in Kottayam, Kanjirappally bypass (Rs.6 crore), Kottayam-Kumarakom-Cherthala Highway (Rs.10 crore), Wagamon Trourism circuit (Rs.25 lakh) and the development of the Arpookara-Athirampzha-Etumanur road. The already announced Erumeli Township and the Mobility Hub at Kodimatha have also found mention in the speech.
In addition Kottayam and Idukki are expected benefit from the trickle downs from the provisions for Western ghats development project (Rs.54 crore), Hill Highway project (Rs.10 crore ) and provisions for the Hill Development authority (Rs 61 crore). Most of the agrarian and infrastructure needs of Idukki are expected to be catered through the annual share from the Idukki Package which comes to Rs. 396 crore for the current year.
The budget has made token provision of Rs.25 lakh for the preliminary studies for the proposed Personal Rapid Transport System in Kottayam and the Wagamon Tourism Circuit (Rs.25 lakh).
One of the welcome features of the budget appears to be the focused thrust on higher education sector in one of the earliest centres of education. The International Research and Training Centre for Below Sea Level Farming in Kuttanand, based at Kumarakom, with Rs. 10 crore provision, will now be a reality. The proposed Institute for Climate Change Studies in Western Ghat, based in Kottayam also find mention in the budget speech.
The proposed Science City in Kottayam has a provision of Rs. 50 lakh and the Knowledge city in Thodupuzha, Rs. 25 lakh. The IIMC branch here has a provision of Rs.1 crore. Token provision has also been made for a Retail Management Institute. The Kshetra Kala Peedom at Vaikom will get a support of Rs.5 lakh. The budget has made provisions for a women’s ITI each in Idukki and Kottayam.
The health sector in the two districts too has found mention in the speech. The Rs. 1 core provided for the new IP block in Idukki district hospital, ESI Hospital at Pala, elevation of kanjirappally Thaluk hospital to general hospital, starting of a virology institute at the Bio Medical Institute at Thalappady.
Other projects that have found mention in the Budget are botanical garden in Parvathymala, development of a velodrome and stadium in Painav, High Altitude Training Centre at Munnar orchid garden at Wagamon.