Staff Reporter

KOCHI: From planners to politicians there is no difference of opinion on converting Thrikkakara, one of Kerala’s fastest growing grama panchayats, into a municipality. “The faster it is made into a municipality, the better it is,” said Sabitha Karim, President of Thrikkakara grama panchayat reacting to a statement by Minister for Local Administration Paloli Mohammed Kutty on Monday that government would consider turning Thrikkakara into a municipality.

K. Babu, MLA representing Thripunithura constituency, which includes Thrikkakara, welcomed the Minister’s announcement.

He said that the move to convert Thrikkakara should not be delayed further because the current panchayat facilities were inadequate to serve the increasing number of people in the panchayat area.

He said that the staff strength within the panchayat is not enough to serve such a large population.

The master plan for Kochi has already envisaged the possibility of Thrikkakara and Maradu panchayats being converted into urban entities.

In a planner’s terms, Thrikkakara had long ago outgrown its identity as a rural entity. Once 75 per cent or more of the population in a particular area is disengaged from agrarian activities, it can be termed an urban area. Former president of the Panchayat M.E. Hassainar said that much thought had gone into converting Thrikkakara into a municipality.

He said that during the previous term of the LDF government in the State, a suggestion had been made to merge Thrikkakara with the Corporation of Cochin. Mr. Babu said that he supported the idea of Thrikkakara Municipality as it would keep the identity of the Panchayat intact.

According to the 2001 census, the total population is 65,000. A rough estimate now puts the population over a lakh.

There are around 240 residential complexes in the panchayat area, spread over 28.5 sq. km. Thrikkakara, a special grade panchayat, has a secretary, a junior superintendent, a head clerk, four upper division clerks, six lower division clerks and two peons. This staff pattern is inadequate for activities like field inspections and tax collections.

Once Thrikkakara becomes a municipality, the staff strength will automatically go up to around 60.