Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s mass contact programme that began here on Thursday lived up to its “tradition”, stretching through the night and Mr. Chandy refusing to budge without listening to the grievance of everyone that approached him.
Finally, when the last petitioner had thanked him and walked away, it was 4.45 a.m. on Friday. Mr. Chandy, surviving on glass after glass of tender coconut water, with the help of Union Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal, Minister for Forests and Environment K.B. Ganesh Kumar and Chengannur legislator P.C. Vishnunath, had attended to 30,960 applications that were submitted before the programme started at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday, and another 35,000 grievances that were submitted during the programme.
Before he headed to the State Guest House here to freshen up and leave for Ernakulam by 8 a.m., Mr. Chandy had disbursed emergency financial assistance to the tune of Rs.2.6 crore, as per initial estimates.
Mr. Chandy, who was assisted by former legislators M. Murali and A.A. Shukoor as well, apart from District Collector Sourabh Jain and Superintendent of Police K.J. James in the endeavour, reiterated that only an inclusive, positive and compassionate approach would help in solving the problems of the people.
Meanwhile, the curious instance of nearly 10,000 applications which had the same request and coming from Kuttanad, which triggered doubts of the land mafia trying to utilize the mass contact programme, remained a mystery even after the programme. The applications, which had crossed 7,000 in number 10 days before the programme, had crossed 10,000, according to an official.
With the request being for permission and financial assistance to use mud to fill up low-lying land, officials in the taluk office forwarded the applications to the Kuttanad Package project office, where it was clarified that there was no such existing scheme, neither in the Package nor in any State-Centrally sponsored programme. As a result, officials decided to keep aside the applications, “to be submitted to the Chief Minister or any authority in case there is a future request or order for the applications to be considered”.