The Chairman of the National Innovation Council and the Chief Mentor of Kerala’s development programmes, Sam Pitroda, in his 10 suggestions for energising Kerala, included ‘Tapping the Potential Retired Persons’ as an item for developmental activities. However, the government has not cared to utilise the services of professionally qualified retired persons. I, who retired as the Director of the Department of Economics and Statistics, Government of Kerala, in 1996, have associated with various research projects in areas of decentralisation, women empowerment and social welfare. As the Project Director of a Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj-sponsored project to ‘Design a System for the Collection and Maintenance of Statistics for Decentralised Planning in Kerala,’ I sought an appointment with the Minister for Panchayats and Social Welfare in April, 2012, to discuss the policy implications arising from the findings of a study carried out as part of the programme.
Besides contacting the Minister’s Private Secretary over phone many times, I have made a request through e-mail as well. However, I have not yet received any communication from the Minister’s office. This kind of attitude does not suit the government’s declared policy of utilising the services of retired persons for the betterment of the State.
Don’t fleece passengers
The government’s decision to increase the autorickshaw fare and fix the minimum fare at Rs.15 is reasonable. When the fare is revised, the authorities should ensure that the autorickshaw drivers collect only the meter charges. Often the passengers are fleeced by the drivers. On some routes, instead of running the meter, the drivers demand fixed charges, which is highly unreasonable. Recently when I travelled from Thampanoor to Sreekanteswaram, I was made to pay Rs.40 though the normal fare is less than Rs.20. The authorities should take steps to protect the rights of the passengers.
Railways neglect capital
The move to extend the Maveli and Mangalore express trains to Nagercoil is unwarranted. Already a few trains operating from and to Thiruvananthapuram Central have been extended to Nagercoil. Passengers already find it difficult to reserve tickets on Maveli and Mangalore express trains and once they are extended the seat available for reservation will be reduced by 50 per cent, benefiting a new division headquartered at Tirunelveli. As a State capital and headquarters of a division, Railways should give due importance to Thiruvananthapuram, with enough trains originating from here. Now at least people can travel by general compartment if they do not get a berth in reserved coaches as these trains start from here. There is no need of extending these trains, as the Nagercoil-Kollam Memu (set to run from December) and Thiruvananthapuram-Nagercoil passenger are running as connection trains for Maveli express (nos: 16603/16604). Nagercoil- Thiruvananthapuram passenger is running as the connection train for Mangalore express(No.16347).
A ‘cool’ move
The decision of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation to use low-floor A/C buses to conduct inter-city services is a welcome move. There have been many newspaper reports saying that the low-floor bus services in the city are running on losses. Low-floor A/C buses on long-distance routes in addition to offering better connectivity can also attract many passengers who prefer comfortable travel. At the same time such services should be operated without disrupting the city services.
Ajay S. Kumar
Protect Asan memorial
Reports on the National Highway Authority of India’s move to acquire part of the premises of the Kumaran Asan National Institute of Culture at Thonnakkal are disturbing, more so when rumours are rife about attempts to enable private landowners to protect their properties. Anyone who has visited the poet’s hallowed memorial precincts at least once would be appalled by this bureaucratic insensitivity.
If these invasions on places and structures that should be jealously guarded go unopposed, the day will come when nothing of our past remains for posterity to seek inspiration from. Our Constitution mandates “protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance” and “valuing and preserving the rich heritage of our composite culture.” Public protest should surge against such insult to the cultural icons that shaped Kerala.
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