The mass contact programme, which reached the 12th district here on Thursday, will be the beginning of a new system of governance, with a permanent monitoring mechanism as well to be put in place, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said.

Mr. Chandy, who continued his mode of personally attending to the maximum possible number of grievances he could here as well, said the mass contact programme was showing him various pitfalls that existed in the present system of governance and the experience gained from these programmes would go a long way in identifying usual bottlenecks; amendments and changes in policy that were required; and also in guiding the Government to move faster and adopt to new approaches to ensure welfare of the people.

Mr. Chandy also pointed that the mass contact programme had thrown off all shackles of politics, especially in Alappuzha, where all seven Left legislators, including former Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac, G. Sudhakaran, A.M. Arif, P. Thilothaman, C.K. Sadashivan, Thomas Chandy and R. Rajesh arrived to extend their support to his endeavour.

The Chief Minister then set the ball rolling with the disbursal of a financial assistance to the family of Smitha, who was brutally raped and murdered at Olakettiyambalam near Kayamkulam two months back.

Smitha, a widow and breadwinner of the family, was killed while returning home from work. Her parents, Ramakrishnan and Ramani, and her daughter, Varsha, received the assistance from Mr. Chandy, which comprised Rs.5 lakhs towards repairing their thatched roof house and another Rs.5 lakhs towards Varsha’s education. Over a crore of financial assistance is being distributed during the programme, including assistance from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and various other schemes.

The programme, which saw over 25,000 people thronging the EMS Stadium, had the severe heat playing villain. But Mr. Chandy did not give up and made it a point to personally interact with patients and physically challenged petitioners, many of whom were brought to the venue in ambulances, autor-rickshaws, wheel- chairs and so on. Most of them left with happy hearts.

These included Martin, a carpenter from Chanthiroor and the sole breadwinner of his family, who was paralysed and bereft of any income.

On top of it he had an outstanding loan of Rs.20,000. He left hearing Mr. Chandy promise him that the loan would be waived off. Cicily from Alappuzha, who came in an ambulance, was returned with Mr. Chandy’s orders for a free operation in the Alappuzha Medical College Hospital, while Thankappan, who had lost his only son Nithin in a train accident, walked back through the crowd, his eyes moist and hands clutching a cheque of Rs.1 lakh that came as ex gratia.